Skip to main content

Full text of ""Just folks,""

See other formats


"JUST FOLKS" 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NEW YORK • BOSTON • CHICAGO 
-ATLANTA ■ SAN FRANCISCO 

MACMILLAN & CO., Limited 

LONDON • BOMBAY ■ CALCUTTA 
MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd. 

TORONTO 



64 



JUST FOLKS" 



BY 



CLARA E. LAUGHLIN 



AUTHOR OF " FELICITY," " EVERYBODY 'S LONESOME, 11 " THE 
EVOLUTION OF A GIRL^ IDEAL, 11 ETC., ETC. 



" Problem ? " said Liza Allen. " Shucks ! Folks 
ain't no problem if you really know 'em — they're 
just folks^ 



• » * 
» » • • 



Nefo gork 
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

1910 

All rights reserved 



Copyright by 

S. S. McCLURE COMPANY, 

1907, 1908, 1910. 

AINSLIE'S MAGAZINE, 1909. 

Copyright, 1910, 
By THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. 



Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1910. 



Norfooob tyttzt 

J. 8. Cushing Co. — Berwick & Smith Co. 

Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 



TO 
THE RADIANT MEMORY OF 

ELIZABETH B. BROWNELL 



912908 



JUST FOLKS 



On her way over from the Juvenile Court 
Building, on Ewing Street east of Halsted, Beth 
Tully stopped at the arched entrance to Hull 
House quadrangle and looked in ; then, drawn 
by a beauty which never failed to thrill her, she 
passed into the court and stood gazing about 
her. Little Beth, who with all her appealing 
femininity had certain boyish graces and sundry 
boyish gifts, could have thrown a stone through 
that archway and hit a clattering wagon or clang- 
ing car passing on Halsted Street ; yet one felt 
many miles aloof from Halsted Street in this 
lovely spot suggestive of some ancient close or 
cloister from the far world overseas. The gray 
stone terrace outside the residents' dining-hall 
was as grateful to beauty-starved senses as a 
bit of Italy ; and everything in the quadrangle 
was full of peace. 

Beth thought wistfully, for a moment, of that 
dining-hall with its beautiful, restful dimensions, 
its peculiarly lovely paper of cool, pale gray, its 
rich, dark woodwork and furniture, its bright 



2 JUST FOLKS 

spots of shining copper and brass, its great open 
fireplace and huge chimney. She had dined 
at those long tables of mahogany whereat the 
residents sat and where there were always guests, 
famous and otherwise ; and she had delighted 
in the beauty of the surroundings, and in the 
clever conversation she heard on a hundred sub- 
jects close to her heart. It was like the refec- 
tory of some ancient hospice, that dining-hall : 
there gathered the brotherhood consecrate to 
the succor of perishing mankind ; there they ate 
and drank and talked of the world outside ; 
there they entertained the travelling brother 
from other hospice or monastery ; thence they 
emerged, on call from without or inner urging, 
to minister to the needy round about ; and 
thither they returned from ministering, to sit 
again around the shining tables of the refectory, 
while good cheer passed and passed again, and 
the ruddy firelight played on burnished copper 
and brass. 

Beth looked up at the apartments which line 
three sides of this court, and swift mental pic- 
tures came to her of the comfort, the refinement, 
the charm that was in this apartment and in that, 
and that. Residents who were able to take 
long leases had had a hand in the designing of 
the apartment they were to occupy; and even 
where choice had not gone so far as this, delight- 
ful individuality was expressed and perfect 



JUST FOLKS 3 

adaptation of surroundings to needs was attained 
in the furnishings. Of course, Beth reminded 
herself, she could never have afforded an apart- 
ment, if she had come to Hull House. Suppos- 
ing she had applied for admission as a resident 
and had been accepted, she could only have been 
of those who have a single room in the quarter 
for women ; not hers, by any chance, an ingle- 
nook in a book-lined room whose dormer win- 
dows overlooked the peace-inspiring close ; not 
hers the pleasure of receiving charming friends 
in a long living-room rich in artistic trophies 
from a dozen lands ; not hers the girlish fun of a 
perfectly appointed kitchenette whereat to con- 
coct toothsome things not on the bill of fare in 
the great dining-hall ; not hers the luxury of 
lying down to sleep, nights, in a quaintly pretty 
chamber, and rising to step into a bathroom all 
chastely white with marble and with porcelain. 
A salary of #75 a month is never adequate to 
things like this, especially when one must put 
by a little in case of accident or illness, and 
" another little" to send a bit of luxury home 
now and then ; and most especially when one's 
work is such that never a day passes in which 
there's no urgent tugging at one's heartstrings 
— so urgent that it's not always possible to keep 
one's purse-strings tied. 

But more than compulsory economy made 
little Beth decide Hull House was not for her. 



4 JUST FOLKS 

She was a probation officer of the Juvenile 
Court, this tiny sprite of a fair-haired girl with 
her direct, earnest ways and the sublime sense of 
humor which, her dear father had been wont 
to say, "threatened to make her great." And 
she had reasoned out for herself that not at Hull 
House, where those far cleverer than she discussed 
the poor as a theorem or worked with the poor 
as a class, in a large, systematic way, could she 
come to such knowledge of the poor as she sought. 
She meant to keep in touch with the splendid 
institution ; to avail herself of many of its privi- 
leges besides the coffee house, where she would 
probably take most of her meals ; to use its 
benefits freely, not only for herself, but for the 
boys and girls committed by the court to her care. 
But she knew the attitude of the Nineteenth 
Ward toward what it regarded as the professional 
benevolence of the Settlement ; and she felt 
that the air of professionalism with which her 
calling surrounded her — the children called 
her "de p'leece lady" — was more than sufficient 
barrier between her and the human nature of her 
charges. So she was determined to level it as 
much as she could by following out a plan of her 
own. 

She had not said a great deal about that plan 
in her letters home ; "the little mother" would 
never have understood, and would have worried 
herself sick. She had small enough idea at best, 



JUST FOLKS 5 

that little mother, of what her Beth did as a pro- 
bation officer. Beth wrote about the boys com- 
ing to report to her, and the little mother thought 
of Beth as sitting in judicial state, somewhere, 
"like her dear father" — Beth's father had been 
a judge — and the only worry that harassed 
the mother's heart was lest some of the boys 
come from infected homes and Beth might "catch 
something." What she would have thought 
if she had known how Beth went about those 
homes, Beth did not dare to imagine. And 
what she would have suffered if she had known 
Beth was planning to live in one of them, was 
best kept out of mind. For there was opposition 
enough to encounter in Hart Ferris, who was 
determined to marry Beth, some day when his 
present job as a reporter had been succeeded by 
an editorship and his salary had increased in pro- 
portion ; and whom Beth meant probably to 
marry some day when her intense interest in other 
people's homes and lives and loves had waned 
sufficiently to permit her to care exclusively, for 
a while at least, about a home and life and love of 
her own. It wasn't that she loved Hart less, 
but that she loved humanity in the aggregate 
more. And Hart Ferris was accepting, since he 
must, this attitude and biding his time with no 
more patience than a fair masculine allowance. 
But he never neglected any possible opportunity 
to protest, and with all his might and all his 



6 JUST FOLKS 

power he had opposed Beth's plan to live in the 
Ghetto. 

"It's bad enough to have you fussing around 
the slums all day, without having you eat and 
sleep there too," he had cried, angrily. 

Little Beth, who had known he would say just 
exactly this, opened her blue eyes wide as if in 
pained astonishment. 

" Why, Hart Ferris ! It was you who first took 
me to the Juvenile Court and interested me in 
probation officers ; you who talked to me so 
glowingly about the system and what it was doing 
for the children, that I could never get the dream 
of sharing in it out my mind. You talked then 
as if you admired the work ! " 

"So I do now — for other girls!" he had 
answered. Whereupon Beth had called him a 
"primitive male person" and endeavored to 
show him his startling likeness to a "cave man." 

She was in no wise deterred by his opposition, 
but she was not one of those martyr souls whose 
happiness increases as her way grows hard ; so 
she said little more to him about her intentions, 
and nothing at all to any one else. But here she 
was, after Court, on a sunny afternoon in March 
looking for a place to live. 

In none of the homes where her work had called 
her could she think of asking either for a room 
or for direction to some one with a room to rent. 
So she was trying, first of all possible ways, the 



JUST FOLKS 7 

way of looking for the least objectionable streets 
and the decentest houses on those streets, hoping 
in the windows of some of those houses to see 
the sign, Rooms for Rent. 

This afternoon as she left the Hull House 
close, and walked west (she knew of no place 
east of Halsted that was at all possible) she 
found herself — without any particular inten- 
tion or design of which she was conscious — try- 
ing Maxwell Street ; perhaps the near proximity 
of the police station gave her a sense of protection, 
as if no really desperate-intentioned folk would 
live close beneath its shadow. At any rate, 
she steered her course through the hordes of 
children playing on the sidewalks, as resolutely 
as if she knew where she was going. And 
presently her searching eye caught sight of the 
desired sign on the door of a decent-looking, three- 
story house whose ground floor was occupied by 
a grocery and, behind the store, the dwelling 
quarters of the grocer, Monahan. Close be- 
side the grocery, whose stock seemed so to over- 
run the sidewalk that the store was only a for- 
mality, was the door bearing the sign, beneath 
which was scrawled in pencil : 3 floor front. 
Another sign on the door said : Fashionable 
Dressmaking. Liza Allen. 3 floor front ; and 
below it was tacked — just out of reach of 
childish fingers unless the children climbed to 
get it — a colored fashion plate from a popular- 



8 JUST FOLKS 

priced magazine. The plate showed a lady of ex- 
traordinary attenuation, semi-attired in an Em- 
pire evening gown of pink. Beth looked from it 
to the women in the street ; most of them were 
Jewish, and shapeless with fat, and the relation 
of their figures to that of the lady in the plate, 
of their black wigs to the lady's elaborate blonde 
coiffure, of their wrappers and sacks to her Em- 
pire attire, appealed irresistibly to Beth's sense 
of humor. She wanted to see how Liza Allen 
looked, and how she regarded her "fashionable 
dressmaking," and who patronized her in this 
community. So she opened the door and stood 
for a moment in the little pocket-size hallway 
before starting up the straight, steep, dark stairs. 
The house was of a familiar type, two tenants 
on each floor and four rooms constituting each 
tenement. The kitchens were in the middle of 
the house and off each kitchen was a tiny bed- 
room. The "front room" of the rear dwellers 
overlooked the back yard, the alley, and the 
backs of houses on the next street ; and off it 
was a small bedroom. The front room of the 
other tenants on each floor was over the grocery 
and overlooked Maxwell Street ; and off it was 
a small bedroom. Beth had come to know this 
arrangement well; and the number of doors 
which confronted her in these dark hallways 
and bore testimony to the wisdom of the archi- 
tect in the ways of sub-letting, never "fazed" her. 



JUST FOLKS 9 

She climbed the second stairway now, feeling 
her way rather than seeing it and, not without 
some pride in her growing sense of discrimination, 
knocked, not on the kitchen but on the front 
room door of Liza Allen's apartment. 

The] whir of the sewing-machine stopped for 
a moment, and a woman's voice called, "Come 
in!" Beth opened the door. An old woman, 
with snow-white hair parted in the middle and 
"crimped," pushed her steel-rimmed spectacles 
up on her forehead and regarded Beth sociably. 

" 'Scuse me fer not gettin' up," she said, 
"but it's such a bother droppin' things an' then 
havin' t' hunt 'em all over when you set down 
agin." 

"I know," Beth answered ; "your thimble and 
your needle and your scissors and your work — 
seems as if they were bewitched, sometimes, 
doesn't it ? And how mad it makes you to drop 
them all for nothing !" 

Liza nodded appreciatively ; evidently this 
young woman was a person of understanding. 
"Beats all!" she confided, "what some folks'll 
call a busy woman from her work fer. But of 
course fer a customer — " 

"I'm not a customer," Beth interposed. She 
had noted the wrapper of cheap calico Liza Allen 
was making, but she let no glint of her amuse- 
ment escape her. "I'm looking for a room." 

"Well now !" said Liza, "you set down an' I'll 



io JUST FOLKS 

tell you 'bout mine. You're mighty fortunate 
to come along right now ; it ain't been vacant 
but a few days, and it always gits snapped up 
quick after I put the sign out." 

And such was the contagion of Liza's pride 
that Beth, even before she had seen the room 
with its washstand "chiny," its stiffly starched 
Nottingham curtains, and its two pictures — " A 
Yard of Pansies" and " Alone," issued by a Sun- 
day paper as colored supplements and cheaply 
framed by a neighborhood emporium as premi- 
ums — was grateful for the happy chance which 
brought her here so opportunely. 

TJie room, when shown, might have seemed to 
some scarcely worthy Liza's complacency. But 
by the time Beth saw it, she was so captivated 
by Liza herself that she was determined to have 
the room ; nor was weakened in her determina- 
tion when the lumpy little mattress on the single 
iron bed showed itself to be thinner than she had 
ever supposed a mattress could be, and the room 
was discovered to be as guiltless of closet or of 
bureau as of heat or other light than that of 
a small glass lamp. 

Nevertheless, she hastened to pay her " dollar 
down, against the rent " — which was two dollars 
a week — and to make her arrangements about 
moving in. 

"I ain't never let to no woman before," said 
Liza Allen — and Beth's heart sank lest Liza be 



JUST FOLKS ii 

repentant of her bargain — "fer they're always 
mussin' 'round and interferin' with yer business. 
But I guess you'll be all right — " 

"I'll eat my meals at Hull House," Beth has- 
tened to plead in her own extenuation, " and send 
all my washing out." 

"Oh, pshaw ! no you won't neither," Liza inter- 
posed. "You're welcome t' cook yer meals on my 
stove, an' it won't be any extry expense t' you. 
The fire's got t' be there, an' it might's well serve 
two. Goodness, no ! don't thank me. What's 
the use o' livin' if you can't do that much fer a 
fella- woman ?" 

After she left Liza Allen's, Beth reflected, with 
amusement at her own expense, how she had sup- 
posed her quest for a room in that neighbor- 
hood would excite curious interest ; how she 
would be questioned as to her motives ; and 
what a discreet little story she would have to tell. 
But while Liza Allen seemed to have the live- 
liest interest in her new tenant's future as in- 
sured by that "A I room," she showed no interest 
at all in her past or how or why she came there. 
The condescension which Beth had felt, though 
she meant valiantly to conceal it, had transferred 
itself to Liza ; and it was with a feeling of "get- 
ting in," not one of "coming in," that Beth 
entered the Ghetto as a resident. 

She moved next day. It was a simple moving 
— just a steamer trunk, which would fit under 



12 JUST FOLKS 

the bed, and a small valise. In the trunk 
were a few girlish knickknacks with which Beth 
hoped ultimately to make her new little room 
seem more truly her own place. But she knew 
she would have to be tactful about introducing 
these into what Liza considered a chamber 
already sufficiently elegant for any mortal use. 

Liza made dresses for a dollar ; wrappers for 
fifty cents. And she had to sew without ceas- 
ing, it seemed. Beth wondered a little, because 
Liza had told her the rent of the four rooms was 
ten dollars a month, and the income from the 
front bedroom was nearly nine. Still, it doubt- 
less took a great deal of sewing at those modest 
prices to buy coal and kerosene and the bit of 
food a lonely old body would eat. On that 
point, however, as on many others, she was 
destined soon to be enlightened. 

It was dusk when she had her few things un- 
packed, and she was tired. She had been up 
late the night before, packing ; and afterwards 
she had, in her excitement, slept but fitfully. 
Then there was the day's work, and the move into 
new quarters. She felt little enough like going 
over to Hull House restaurant for her supper. 

Liza was still sewing, by the light of a lamp 
set on her machine. 

"I believe I'll go out and buy a bit of some- 
thing," Beth said to her. "Can I get anything 
for you ?" 



JUST FOLKS 13 

Liza gave her order. When Beth got back, 
Liza was still bent over her work ; so Beth cooked 
both suppers. And after supper she "cleared 
up." Then, strangely without any surprise to 
herself, she began threading needles for Liza 
while that indefatigable woman strained her poor 
old eyes to do "finishing" by the feeble lamp- 
light. 

Then, quite naturally, the story of Liza's 
industry came out. Without lifting her head 
from the steady stitch, stitch, she told about 
her debt and — without meaning to — about 
herself. 

"No, I ain't never been married," she said. 
Beth had not asked her ; the subject was of her 
own introduction. "But I was mighty near it 
once ; and goodness knows I always had beaus 
a-plenty ! But there was Joe — my brother. 
He was that gifted, you wouldn't believe ! but 
seems like somehow he couldn't never git on. 
The others married off, an' bimeby there was only 
Joe an' me left in the old home, back in Ohio, 
an' I was actually gittin' ready at last to marry 
Adam Spear that I'd kep' comp'ny with for 
thirteen years. The weddin' day was set an' 
the weddin' clo's was made — didn't seem, when 
I was sewin' on 'em, that it could be true they 
was mine an' not some other bride's like they'd 
always been before — when we found that Joe 
had got hisself into a peck o' trouble 'bout some 



14 JUST FOLKS 

money he'd borrowed, signin' somethin' ; an' 
't seems," Liza went on without reproachfulness, 
"like he'd kind o' signed my name too. An' 
'stid o' leavin' Joe all hunky-dory on his own 
little place an' him payin' me off fer my share 
like we'd laid out he would, so's Adam an' me 
could git a good start, there wasn't nothin' fer 
him ner me ! Course I couldn't leave Joe like 
that — him never bein' one t^o take responsibil- 
ity fer himself. An' Adam got put out with me 
an' said if I cared so much more fer Joe I could 
have him good an' plenty. So Adam he sold out 
his little business — he was a carpenter — and 
went away. No, I never see him again. An' 
Joe an' me, we had pretty hard sleddin' there 
fer a while, till bimeby Joe got a notion that we'd 
never git along there and ought to come here t' 
Chicago where a man that was gifted could git 
some notice took of him. So we come. Land ! 
that was in '70. We took what the place'd 
bring, sellin' it quick like that — Joe alius 
was one to do a thing quick when he got the 
notion — an' after we'd paid off the rest o' the 
debt we come here an' bought a little store where 
we sold newspapers and tobacco and stationery. 
An' — beats all! — if the Big Fire didn't come 
along 'fore we was hardly settled, an' wipe us 
clean off the map. After that, Joe he got dis- 
couraged an' seemed like he never could git 
started agin. An' then he — you know how 'tis 



JUST FOLKS 15 

with men when they get that way — he got the 
failin', an' first thing I know he got took to the 
County one night with both his poor legs cut off 
by a train. After that it was all off with him. I 
got him some peg-legs — they was real expensive, 
too — but he never took to 'em. So he'd jest 
set here — poor Joe would — an' watch me sew, 
an' worry for fear he wouldn't be buried like a 
gentleman. 'Now don't you goon like that,' I'd 
tell him ; 'am I the one to see you buried cheap ? 
you that have always had such high ambitions !' 
An' then he'd cheer up an' tell me how he wanted 
things done — at the last, you know. I never 
see a man so partikler about his fun'ral as Joe 
was. But he had to wait a long time for it, 
poor fella ! Seventeen years he set an' thought 
about it, afore it come to pass. An' the last 
couple o' years he was awful ailin' — had the 
doctor every week, almost, an' more med'cine 
than'd kill a camel, you'd think. But when he 
come to go he seemed real pleased, thinkin' 
about his fun'ral. 'Tuberoses, Lizy' he'd say. 
'You remember ? An' white pinks — in a pilla — 
with "Brother" on it — in everlastin's.' An' 
the las' day — we could be pretty sure it was the 
last, he was failin' so rapid — he'd keep mur- 
murin' 'bout the everlastin's, an' finally he sighed, 
an' I says, 'What is it, Joe ?' an' he says, awful 
wishful, ' 'f I could on'y see 'em ! ' — meanin' 
the flowers. An' thinks I, 'Why not ?' an' puts 



16 JUST FOLKS 

on my shawl an' goes over t' Blue Island an' had 
the pilla made." 

Beth almost gasped. 

"An' you never see any one so pleased," Liza 
went on, lifting a corner of her apron to wipe 
her eyes. "O' course the pilla was some faded 
by the fun'ral time, but I figgered there wasn't 
no one there that cared so much about it as Joe 
had." 

There was sympathetic silence for a moment. 
Then : "It was as handsome a fun'ral, though, 
as I ever lay eyes on. Poor Joe ! he deserved it. 
You wouldn't believe, jes' knowin' me, what a 
gifted man he was. But, My Country ! 'tain't 
all paid off yet — that fun'ral !" 

There was no self-pity in this last admission 
— indeed no ! rather was it full of pride ; and the 
needle, which had been faltering a little, moved 
in and out more briskly, as if spurred by the con- 
sciousness that it was able to afford Liza so hand- 
some a debt. 

Beth had often deplored the extravagant 
funerals of the poor, but it dawned upon her as 
Liza talked that there may be more than one 
standard of economy, more than one rule to 
determine what is worth while. 

Time was — and that only a very little while 
ago — when she would have felt impelled to help 
lift the weight of debt from Liza's shoulders, to 
try to atone to her for all she had foregone. But 



JUST FOLKS 17 

tonight ! Even after this so brief experience of 
the changed point of view that had been her 
desire in coming to live in the Ghetto, she was 
measuring the contentment of Liza's toilsome 
days against the state of other women immeas- 
urably less uplifted by having met a great de- 
mand in a great way. And as she crept into her 
little bed, she forgot how thin the mattress was, 
in her exultant gratitude for having been led to 
Maxwell Street. 



II 

In the morning, Liza brought the steaming tea- 
kettle to Beth's room tp fill her "chiny" wash- 
bowl with hot water. 

"Land sakes, child !" she exclaimed when she 
saw Beth's little nightie, low-necked and short 
of sleeve; "is that all you got to cover your 
poor little bones with at night ?" 

Beth tried to explain how hot was the steam- 
heated bedroom she had occupied in the board- 
ing-house. But Liza was sceptical. "Flannel- 
ette's the thing," she declared. "Goodness ! 
you'll be tied in a knot with rheumatiz, time 
you're forty." 

And, even though spring was coming on, Beth 
felt that she would better get something more 
suited to Liza's chill little front room ; for in 
March and April and even in May, there are 
many raw nights in Chicago. 

Also, at breakfast, she was reminded of the tea- 
pot which she had decided, the night before, she 
must purchase. Liza liked black tea and she 
liked it "good an' strong." Beth cared only for 
the mildest infusion of uncolored Japan. So she 
said she must get herself a tiny tea-pot and a 
little bit of tea. 

18 



JUST FOLKS 19 

There were several other things she needed, 
too. So after breakfast she went over to Halsted 
and Fourteenth streets to what was self-styled 
an emporium. 

There was some consternation in the "empo- 
rium" when she asked to have these things de- 
livered at Liza Allen's. • Customers of the em- 
porium furnished their own delivery service 
nor would have consented otherwise ; when one 
paid one's money out for a thing, one wished 
immediate possession of it, not only because 
things were seldom bought until long after they 
had begun to be needed, but because one of 
the proudest things about shopping was to go 
home so bundle-laden that the ever-ready atten- 
tion of the neighborhood should be attracted, 
even to the possibility of accumulating a little 
"following" who would accompany one home 
to see the parcels unwrapped and hear the 
tale of prices. 

Beth carried her purchases back to Liza Allen's 
and bestowed them in her room, where she had 
thought to leave them still in their wrappings 
until she came home after her day's work. But 
Liza had begun to "help her unwrop" almost 
before she had time to lay the bundles down, and 
her interest in the disclosures and what Beth 
had "give for" them was so keen and so happy 
that again Beth yielded. She was beginning 
to apprehend that in a life where excitements 



20 JUST FOLKS 

are not many one must make the most of every 
little interest, and that, by the wonderful law of 
equivalence which operates everywhere, this eager- 
ness to be interested in small things cultivated a 
spirit whose potentiality for pleasure was in 
excess of that usually found where excitements 
are big and diversions many. 

"Spent a good deal, didn't yeh ?" Liza ques- 
tioned, a little anxiously. But Beth assured her 
that she needed these things and made her feel 
that they were, in a way, an effort to do 
honor to the "best rentin' room in the neigh- 
borhood." 

That evening Hart Ferris called. When Beth 
had told him of her new home, the evening she 
was packing up to go to it, Hart heard her glumly. 

"Every time I go to see you, after this, have 
I got to call on Liza Allen, too ?" he asked. 

Beth's eyes twinkled. "There's the kitchen 
— " she began suggestively. 

Ferris made a gesture of disgust. 

"It's all the visiting place the girls over there 
have," Beth went on soberly, " and few of them 
have as c retired' a kitchen as Liza's. Maybe I 
can get closer to the Juvenile Court girls, when 
I live closer to their meagre opportunities." 

The wistful look crept into her face as she spoke, 
and Ferris found himself doing as he always did 
when Beth looked that way : praying in his 
heart "God bless her!" There was something 



JUST FOLKS 21 

in him that rebelled against many of Beth's 
undertakings, but it was a superficial some- 
thing ; and deep down beneath it was another 
something which loved her the more intensely 
for meeting his protests with unflinching purpose. 

On the evening of his first call at Maxwell 
Street, Ferris found Beth threading needles for 
Liza Allen, while that tireless woman worked at 
"finishin'." 

"Seems, a'ready, 's if she'd been here always," 
Liza said to Ferris when she had welcomed him 
and told him how Beth "fit in." 

When Ferris said something about feeling like 
an idler in that busy atmosphere, Liza took him 
at his word and indulgently gave him a finished 
wrapper, and told him to "take out the bastin's." 

Ferris shot a quick look at Beth to see if there 
was laughter in her eyes. But there wasn't ; 
the look he caught before the blue eyes drooped 
again to their needle-threading was a look which 
made him take the wrapper and apply himself to 
the "bastin's" as if that were the inevitable 
thing for him to be doing. 

"Seems real nice to have a man around again," 
said Liza, gratefully. "I ain't had much mas- 
c'line society sence Joe died. And I miss it, I 
tell you. Most women's talk is awful tame to me. 
I ain't never been one t' go along takin' no inter- 
est in anythin' but vittles an' clo's, like most 
women," she went on. "I like t' hear big 



22 JUST FOLKS 

talk. Why ! th' other day the Presbyterian 
preacher came here t' call on me. I guess he's 
a well-meanin' young fella, but land ! he bored 
me stiff. He told me 'bout the fine currant jell 
his mother used t' make, and how handy his wife 
was to trim her own hats. I didn't say nothin', 
not wantin' t' hurt his feelin's. But if he'd 
only have ast me what I thought o' the way 
things is goin' with the gov'ment, I could have 
enjoyed seein' him. I suppose that young man 
kin read seven furrin tongues — dead languidges 
I've heard 'em called — but he ain't got no 
more sense o' live human bein's than a bleatin' 
lamb." 

So Ferris, taking his cue from the preacher's 
failure, talked to Liza of the largest topics he 
knew, or knew about ; and if at any time during 
the call he thought wistfully of the kitchen, or 
wished Liza would go to bed, he concealed the 
wistfulness with supreme gallantry. 

Beth accompanied him out into the dark hall 
when he had said good night to Liza. 

"Well — ?" she said. 

He knew what she meant. "Well ?" he echoed, 
teasingly. 

"Are your worst fears confirmed ?" she insisted. 

"My worst fears are not confirmed," he ad- 
mitted. 

"Do you begin to see why I wanted to come ?" 

"I begin to see why you wanted to come." 



JUST FOLKS 23 

That was a triumph Beth had not dared to 
expect so soon. 

Beth was curious about her neighbors, but 
Liza Allen had few callers ; she did not even 
encourage the other women of the house to sit and 
talk to her as she sewed. They "flustered" her, 
she said, and she could not afford to be flustered ; 
she was happier sitting by herself and thinking 
of Joe's elegant funeral as she sewed and sewed 
to pay for it. And sew she must right steadily, 
for longer and longer hours each year as her 
fumbling fingers grew less and less expert and 
trade had to be wooed with lower and lower 
prices. 

In an occasional moment of depression Liza 
would admit to Beth that she wasn't "up to 
all the wrinkles" she saw in her magazine of 
styles ; but to her trade she never talked less 
authoritatively than a sibyl ; and every month 
she hung on her front door downstairs, under the 
faded sign which advertised "Fashionable Dress- 
making," the gaudiest colored plate from her 
magazine, showing the willowiest of French figures 
in the trailingest of French evening frocks. 

Beth used to wonder a good deal about the 
women who pored so intently over Liza's style 
book, lingering — some delightedly, some resent- 
fully — over the "dressiest" pictures, and then 
agreeing with Liza that they'd "best have 



24 JUST FOLKS 

a good basque; 'twon't go out o' style so 



soon." 



But none of these customers yielded Beth 
any friendship until an eventful Saturday when 
she had been with Liza for nearly two weeks. 
On that day, about ten in the morning, Liza 
opened her door in response to a faint knock and 
admitted an elfish person almost completely en- 
veloped in a large black shawl. The hall was so 
black and the shawl was so black that when 
Liza first peered into the blackness all she could 
see was a very small white face and the shining 
of two very large dark eyes. 

"Be you the drissmaker?" asked the elf. 

"I be," said Liza, still peering. 

"How much d'ye charge fer my size ?" 

"Lan' sakes, I don't know! Come in an* 
leave me look at you." 

The elf stepped inside and looked about her 
awesomely. Then from the recesses of the 
shrouding shawl she produced a bundle wrapped 
in a pink "sporting sheet," and disclosed a piece 
of dark red dress goods which Liza called " me- 
rino," and was promptly corrected by the elf. 
"'Tis i7mrietta-cloth," she said. 

"Sure," agreed Liza, handling it with critical 
fingers. "I hadn't felt of it when I said merino." 

The elf said her name was Midget Casey, that 
she lived "to Hinry Street, number twinty-wan," 
and that the goods "was give" her by "a lady 



JUST FOLKS 25 

upstairs" whose baby she had tended and whose 
errands she had run while the lady was sick. 
" She was goin' t' git it in a waist hersilf," the 
explanation continued, "but she give it to me if 
I would help her ; an' I. did." Since then — 
that was a month ago — Midget had been 
hoarding the goods and working "t' git it made 
stylish." She had scorn, it seemed, of her ma's 
dressmaking as having no style. This Midget 
attributed to the lack of "patrons" (patterns), 
which she was anxious to know if Liza used. 
"I want it made Frinch" she announced, "long in 
th' waist an' short in th' skirt." She indicated 
in the style book what she meant, pointing with 
a grimy wee finger. "How much fer th' mak- 
in' ?" she asked, and turned up to Liza such 
wishful big eyes that Liza checked the "Fifty 
cents " which rose to her lips, and asked instead, 
"How much you got?" Midget had thirty- 
five cents, all in nickels. "I made 'em lightin' 
fires fer th' Sheenies," she said. Jewish law 
forbids the lighting of fires on Saturday mornings, 
and a nickel is the price for which a Gentile 
child is hired to assume the penalty of this 
sacrilege. " If thim ain't enough," urged Midget, 
to whom the seven nickels looked enough for 
anything, "could youse do th' rist on me word ? " 
Liza thought they would be enough and was re- 
turning them to Midget until payment should be 
earned, but Midget demurred. "You kape 



26 JUST FOLKS 

thim," she said shrewdly, "thin I know wheer 
they are." There was a note of relief in her voice, 
as if of satisfaction to know that all the tempta- 
tion to divert that money she had suffered for 
weeks was over now. Beth felt it, and her im- 
mediate impulse was to return the hoard to 
Midget and herself pay Liza for the making of 
the dress. But something made her hestitate. 

"I'll help you with it," she said to Liza when 
Midget was gone; "you oughtn't to take your 
time for so little pay." Already, the obligations 
of Joe's funeral were beginning to lie heavily on 
Beth too. 

"The pay's enough," Liza rejoined delibera- 
tively, "and if it wa'n't, it's little I git doin' 
fer a child." 

"That thirty-five cents is a big pile of money 
to her," Beth suggested. "I thought I might 
manage to make the dress so she could keep the 
money." 

"You let her pay fer her dress," Liza com- 
manded. "Folks git most pleasure out o' what 
costs 'em most." And in the face of such proof 
as Liza herself, Beth could not deny this. 

But the next time she went out she instituted 
search for 'Hinry" Street and located "twinty- 
wan, " which was a substantial brick house of 
three stories and what the neighborhood calls a 
basement, but the tenement-house laws call a 
cellar because it is two-thirds or more under the 



JUST FOLKS 27 

street level. The Caseys lived in the rear cellar, 
Beth learned of a child in the street, and the 
approach thereto was down a steep flight of 
perilously rickety wooden steps and along a 
narrow plank walk to a side door, and then into 
a small black entryway with doors opening into 
the Caseys' "front room" and into the kitchen 
of the front flat, and with steeply winding stairs 
disappearing into the blackness above. Beth 
rapped at the rear door, and after a few moments' 
delay it was opened by a woman with a child in 
her arms. 

"Mrs. Casey?" asked Beth. 

"Sure," was the response; "will ye come 
in?" 

Beth followed the woman through the "front 
room," which was unfurnished and chill, into the 
kitchen, which was stifling with heat and damp 
and that peculiar acrid odor — compounded of 
mustiness and personal uncleanness and stale 
odors of strong cooking — which every visitor 
to the homes of the poor knows as "the poverty 
smell." 

Fire raged to the brim of the big, heavily 
nickeled cook stove which the Caseys were 
buying by what they optimistically called "aisy 
payments," and the rest of the steaming room 
seemed full of dripping clothes. Mary Casey 
had been washing, and when her wash was hung 
on the lines overhead (it was a wet day) she had 



28 JUST FOLKS 

dumped the tubful of suds on her kitchen floor 
and swept the water out the back door. 

On the black, soppy floor sat a weird, wizened 
little boy who glowered at Beth unsociably. 

"Git up, Dewey," his mother commanded, 
"an' have some manners about ye." 

The baby in her mother's arms was a pretty 
little girl of two, maybe, evidently "backward," 
but attractive in spite of one sore eye. 

Beth explained that she lodged at the dress- 
maker's — thanking her stars that for once she 
did not have to introduce herself to a new house- 
hold as "de p'leece lady" — and said she had 
come to ask Midget something about the making 
of her dress. 

Midget's mother was guiltless of knowledge 
that Midget was getting a dress made, or even 
that she had "the makin's." Seeing which, 
Beth began to hedge uncomfortably, sorry she 
had betrayed the child. But in a moment she 
became aware that Mary Casey was thoroughly 
elated at the news. 

"Well, now, ain't that smart of 'er?" she 
queried delightedly. "Her that have niver had 
a new dress in her life, that I kin raymimber. 
Rid, did ye say ? It'll become 'er fine, won't it ? 
An' a rale drissmaker t' make it ! Did ye iver?" 
The mother was amused as well as proud. 

As she talked, Beth had been studying her 
interestedly, conscious of a strong drawing toward 



JUST FOLKS 29 

the thin Irish woman with her wisps of faded 
hair screwed back tightly from her prominent 
forehead ; her scarcity of teeth ; her fine, 
flashing eyes ; and her gnarled hands — hid- 
eously parboiled just now — on the wedding 
finger of which hung loosely a thin gold band. 
There was something reminiscent about Mrs. 
Casey's voice, and about the humor in her dark 
eyes. It bothered Beth ; and then, in a flash, 
the connecting link of memory was found, and 
Beth asked : — 

"Mrs. Casey, did you ever know any one by the 
name of Tully ?" 

"I did that," was the prompt answer. "I 
worked out fer 'em just before I was married." 

"Then you were Mary Keegan ?" 

"Yis, ma'am." 

"And I am little Beth Tully." 

"Fer the love of!" cried Mary Casey. And 
then followed questions and explanations, the 
history, briefly told, of eighteen years. 

"Yer not married ?" asked Mary. 

"No," Beth answered, and could feel Mary's 
frank sympathy; "not yet. And I'm getting 
awful old, Mary; I'm twenty-five." 

"Ye don' look it," said Mary, handsomely. 

Beth loved the graciousness of Mary. 

"An' how's yer ma ?" Mary Casey went on. 

Beth told her of the breaking up of their home, 
after her father's death three years ago ; of the 



30 JUST FOLKS 

discovery that he had left nothing but life in- 
surance which, of course, only the little mother 
must touch ; and of her own coming to Chicago 
to earn a living. 

"An' yer workin' fer yer bit of livin', ye poor 
little lamb ?" crooned Mary, tenderly. "What 
d'ye do?" Beth told her. "Fer the love of!" 
the older woman cried compassionately. 

Beth was essentially a sturdy young soul, 
and she did not relish being felt sorry for. But 
the humor in her that was her genius came to 
her aid, and she accepted the situation with 
keen appreciation. 

"And you, Mary ?" she said. 

"I've had nine," said Mary, proudly, "an' 
sivin of 'em's alive." 

"And your husband ?" 

Mary laughed. "Sure, he's alive, all right." 

Involuntarily, Beth looked about her, and 
Mary read the look. 

"He ain't workin' stiddy," she explained. 

"He" was a stone-cutter by trade and, ap- 
parently, a loafer by occupation ; this last, how- 
ever, was no conscious admission of Mary's. 
He was a "foine scolard," she said, and could 
"rade an' write jest as aisy" — which she 
herself could not do. But he had "th' failin'," 
and what with that and with cement taking the 
place of stone, the way it was, he had hard 
work finding jobs. 



JUST FOLKS 31 

No, he "didn' have no caard fer no other 
kind of trade;" and as for an open shop, where 
"caards" were not necessary, he'd starve before 
he'd "work wid scabs." And what made it 
kind of hard was that various charity organiza- 
tions had no sympathy with his predicament, 
and refused aid if the visitors came and found 
him at home. 

Sometimes he did go away in search of indus- 
trial conditions better suited to a "man wid 
princ'ples," where it is neither too wet nor too 
dry, too hot nor too cold to work, and everybody 
belongs to the union. With the first soft days of 
spring, he almost always heard of some "gran' 
job" far afield, and he had — it seemed — a 
remarkable facility in getting to these places, 
although the facility always failed when it came 
to finding the job. It was astonishing, to Mary, 
how few opportunities the world had to offer 
a man who was a "scolard" and a fierce enemy 
to scabs. 

In consequence, there was seldom any money 
forthcoming from these tours in quest of ideal 
employment, but they were a boon to the family 
none the less, for then they hadn't the burden of 
his "keep." Alas! though, the tours were al- 
ways undertaken in pleasant weather when 
travelling is easy but charity is inoperative. 
With the first biting cold he came back along the 
boardwalk, some night at supper time ; and 



32 JUST FOLKS 

throughout the winter, while the wolf snapped at 
the warped ill-fitting door, he sat with his feet 
in the oven and kept scrupulous charity from 
pulling the wolf away. 

All this Beth gathered from Mary's talk. 

"And the children?" she said. "They sup- 
port you.?" 

"Well, mos'ly they do. But 'tis oncertain- 
like, Mikey bein' out of a job so much. He's 
seventeen, now, but awful thin and not rale 
smart in the head." 

He had gone to work when he was eleven, Mary 
went on to explain — child-labor laws were 
less rigorous then — in a wall-paper factory, where 
he worked in a steaming room whose temperature 
averaged no°. And he had "took th' paint- 
p'isnin'." His "stumick hadn't set right" since 
then, and Beth gathered from what Mary said 
that Mikey was a bit flighty and lacked a sense 
of responsibility. Skilled workmen couldn't be 
bothered with him for a helper and apprentice. 
He had always to do a week's work now here, 
now there, for the meagre wage. And when a 
rush subsided and any one was "let off," Mikey 
was always the first one spared. 

Beth was full of sympathy. Maybe . she 
could help Mikey — could get some one to take 
an interest in him. "What is he working at 
now ?" she said. 

Mary flushed and hesitated. Then, "I'll 



JUST FOLKS 33 

tell you, Miss Tully, because I know ye'll under- 
stan'. Mos'ly I tell thim that asks, ourMikey's 
workin' on th' Sout' Side, though there's thim 
aroun' here that know, I'm afraid. He's in that 
place they call th' bean house." 

"Why, Mary ! What for ?" 

Mary stiffened resentfully. She had evi- 
dently not understood what Beth meant when 
she told her — slurring the "Court" part as 
much as possible — that she was a Juvenile 
Probation Officer, and she mistook Beth's 
sympathetic interest for reproach. 

"Fer bein' discour'ged — though that isn' 
what they called it in the court." 

"I know!" cried little Beth, "I know!" 
Then she explained to Mary Casey what her 
work was. 

"Was it — was it you that had 'im sint up ?" 

"No, Mary, no ! I've been in this district only 
a few weeks. I used to have a district on the 
Northwest Side." 

Mikey must have been before the Juvenile 
Court and sent to the John Worthy Reform 
School just before Beth came into the Nineteenth 
Ward district. He had found the cluttered 
kitchen intolerable, evenings, and had taken to 
going out with some of the neighborhood boys. 
Disheartened by many rebuffs, he could see no 
future worth hoping for. And the present was 
bitter indeed, what with having to give every 



34 JUST FOLKS 

penny he earned to keep souls and bodies to- 
gether at home, and with Pa drinking up part 
of those pitifully few pennies and cursing the 
stupidity in Mikey which made them so few. 
The boys he went with were young rowdies, 
believed by the police to be responsible for 
sundry acts of lawlessness, such as holding high 
carnival of dice-throwing and beer-drinking in a 
vacant store without the owner's permission, 
and damaging his property in the revel, and at- 
tempting to tamper with the locks on freight- 
cars, for purposes of petty thieving. The boys 
seemed to the Law to be young criminals-in-the- 
making and, not knowing any better thing to do 
for them, the Law had put them under restraint 
and instruction. 

All this Beth was able to gather, partly from 
what Mary said and largely through her own 
knowledge of such situations. 

The support of the family, now, was Angela 
Ann, who was not quite sixteen but swore she 
"was over." She was a bundle wrapper, just 
at present, in a West Side "Emporium" where 
she got $3.50 a week. 

Beth was indignant at "Pa." As an officer 
of the Juvenile Court it was a large part of her 
business to deal summarily with the delinquent 
parents of what the law calls "dependent chil- 
dren." She hinted to Mary that Pa might be 
brought before the Court and made to work ; but 



JUST FOLKS 35 

the hint was evidently not approved, so Beth 
did not urge it. 

No wonder that thirty-five cents had looked 
large to Midget ! No wonder she felt relieved 
to deposit it beyond recall ! She came in 
before Beth left and looked momentarily 
startled at the probable betrayal of her secret. 
But Mary's beaming pride soon reassured her. 
"Girls do be nadin' a pritty thing now'n' agin'," 
she told Beth, beaming at Midget the while. 
"'Tis more t' them, sometimes, ner what they 
kin ate. An' as fer fire, there's none like pride 
t' kape ye warm." 

Beth took Midget out with her, when she went, 
to bring back the "little treat for the children" 
she asked Mary if she might not buy "to cele- 
brate old times when you used to bake me saucer 
pies, and little cakes in the covers of the baking- 
powder tins." 

That evening she told Liza Allen and Hart 
Ferris about the Caseys. She was a little 
delicate, at first, about going too searchingly 
into details about Pa before Liza, who had herself 
suffered so much from a worthless man. But 
she need not have been. For Liza soon made 
it plain to her that she might inveigh all she 
wanted to against idle, selfish men who, instead 
of bearing the burdens, made of themselves the 
heaviest weight upon their poor families. Liza 
was of one mind with her about such men ; and 



36 JUST FOLKS 

so, it seemed, had the lamented Joe been, too. 
For whenever Liza had asked him if he didn't 
feel bad to think he'd had to live and die without 
raising a family, Joe had always replied with 
righteous warmth that he was glad — "not bein' 
one to raise a f am'ly unless he could do handsome 
by 'em. Joe was that smart himself, he couldn't 
never have stood it t' raise children that wa'n't 
clever. If he'd of had boys, I bet it'd have been 
college fer every one — that was Joe!" 

Beth looked at Ferris and Ferris looked at Beth. 

"I think," said Beth, when she could trust her- 
self to speak, "that the law ought to get after Pa 
and put him in jail if he won't work." 

"Well, now," Liza answered judicially, hold- 
ing up a finished "basque" and surveying it 
critically, her head on one side, "that ain't 
so durned easy t' say. I guess they can't 
nobody decide when other folks has stood their 
troubles long enough. If them that's bearing 
'em hollers, I guess mebbe it's all right t' run in 
an' help 'em — though that don't always foller 
neither — but until they ask fer the law, I can't 
see but what the law has got t' leave 'em work 
out their own salvation — in fear an' tremblin'." 



Ill 

Every day that Beth lived in Maxwell Street 
she became more and more aware of the amazing 
difference it was making in her work and in her, 
to live close to the daily problems of a few typi- 
cal human beings. She began to think with 
scorn of the profitless intercourse of the genteel 
boarding-house she had left and to wonder if 
the people she had met there were actually as 
colorless, as bloodless, as apart from real life 
and its issues as they seemed, or whether there 
was something in the atmosphere that en- 
veloped them as in a fog and made each of them 
seem to all his neighbors like a phantom, a shape 
stalking through a vague, chaotic dream. Over 
here, there was such intense reality in people. 
Every one seemed definite, individual. Every- 
thing they did seemed to belong to life in such 
an integral, essential way. 

Just "over Monahan's," for instance, there 
was a wonderful little world, sufficient in itself 
to keep one interested. Liza knew all about her 
neighbors, as a matter of course, but she had 
little or no time to "mix with 'em" as she called 
it. It was, however, not a gossipy tenement 

37 



38 JUST FOLKS 

and no one's feelings were hurt by Liza's steady 
application to work. 

In the rooms back of her lived a very quiet 
family of Russian Jews : the father and mother, 
the mother's mother, and three children all above 
fourteen years. Their name was something 
unpronounceable, contracted to Slinsky. The 
father was a gentle poetic-looking man, who 
might have stood to Sargent for one of the least- 
direful Prophets in his great fresco. He was a 
dreamer, with none of the commercial sense of 
his race. He made a rigidly honest living — 
meagre, but always well within the limits of 
self-respect amounting to pride — for himself 
and his family, by peddling brushes. This 
left him free to keep his Saturdays and holydays 
for the Lord. He was a gentle but unrelenting 
fanatic in his orthodoxy. His wife was a large 
woman of a melancholy disposition, inclined to 
constant fretfulness. Her mother was little 
and shrunken and considered very venerable and 
aged, though she was just sixty. She wore the 
black wig of the Jewish elderly woman and was 
so like thousands of others of her sort in the 
Ghetto that Beth used to marvel how their own 
kindred could tell "one Grandma from another." 
The children were : Abe, a tall, handsome 
youth of sixteen, finishing his third year at the 
High School ; Sarah, his younger sister, pretty 
and vivacious and loving gayety ; and Dinah, 



JUST FOLKS 39 

the eldest of the children, a poor, squat little 
dwarf with a fine large thoughtful face set on a 
body no bigger than a child of six should have. 
Dinah was to graduate from the High School this 
June, and Liza had "heard tell" that one of 
Dinah's classmates, who was her particular friend, 
was a blind girl. All this made Beth intensely 
anxious to know the Slinksys, but they were 
exceedingly reserved, and the passionate drama 
of their lives unfolded to her almost not at all 
for many weeks. 

Below the Slinskys lived the family of Joe 
Gooch, a teamster. He was a very giant in 
stature, a hard worker, a tender husband and 
father, a thoroughly nice, good man of the sort 
frequently developed by a pretty, incompetent 
wife. Mamie Gooch had been a "saleslady," 
and five years of married life had made, appar- 
ently, so little impress on her that one felt she 
could at any moment have stepped out of her 
untidy kitchen, bunched out her pompadour to a 
little more monstrous proportions, exchanged her 
wrapper for a black dress, and gone back to a 
place behind a counter, without carrying with her 
one sobering, maturing trace of her wifehood and 
motherhood. 

In front of the Gooches and below Liza lived 
Hannah Wexsmith, a little Irish widow who 
always made Beth think of Dickens and regret 
that the great romancer could not have added 



4 o JUST FOLKS 

Hannah to his gallery of immortals. It took 
Beth a considerable time to learn to know 
Hannah, so we may not be precipitate here. 
Superficially, the main facts about Hannah were 
that she had lived in those rooms for eighteen 
years, since before the incursion of the Jews, 
and before the death of her husband, who was a 
janitor's assistant in a downtown office building 
and was killed by a fall from a high window he 
was cleaning. Hannah was childless, which, so 
far as outlook went, meant not only that she had 
no one besides herself to consider in her present, 
but no one to whom she could look for con- 
sideration in her future. The rent of her 
rooms was #10 a month when she first took 
them, #12 later on and now. She sublet her 
two front rooms ; when they were continu- 
ously tenanted and the rent was not "behind- 
hand," the revenue from them was $18 a month. 
And on the difference between her fixed and un- 
postponable obligation to the landlord, and her 
lodgers' variable and much-deferred obligations 
to her, she managed to live, somehow, and to keep 
aloof from the smallest evidence of poverty. 
The house next on the west was three stories high 
and very close. Upstairs, Liza's kitchen and the 
Slinskys' got some light filtering down from the 
zenith, but Hannah's kitchen and Mamie Gooch's 
were as "dark as pockets." Mamie had her 
"front" room, overlooking the yard, to live in. 



JUST FOLKS 41 

But Hannah lived in her tomblike kitchen and a 
stifling closet, miscalled a room, where her cot- 
bed stood. It would never have entered her 
head to invade, for longer than the time neces- 
sary to "do them up," those front rooms, sacred 
to the lodgers. 

At the head of the first flight of stairs was a wall 
bracket containing a small glass lamp. The halls 
were as black at noon as at midnight, but custom 
decreed that the lamp should be lighted by the 
tenant of the second floor front rooms, each evening 
at six, and that the feeble beacon should glimmer 
until it expired, somewhere in those wee, small 
hours when the last stumbling, home-coming step 
had, supposedly, reached the door of its desti- 
nation. Hannah Wexsmith had been the keeper 
of the light for eighteen years and had never once 
failed in her duty. No guardian of a great coast 
beacon ever held his office more responsibly. 

It was in the discharge of this duty that she 
used to be in the hall sometimes when Beth was 
coming home at night, and there they had their 
first intercourse, which was no more than what 
Hannah called "biddin' the time o' day." Later, 
when the spring evenings grew warm enough, 
Hannah would carry a green carpet-covered 
hassock down to the street door and sit there for 
hours, half-hidden by Monahan's overflow of 
cabbages, watching the human comedy in Max- 
well Street ; and here Beth would come to sit 



42 JUST FOLKS 

beside her, sometimes — but of all this, and of 
the others, more anon. 

The Caseys yielded her an intimate friendship 
much more readily than did anybody else but 
Liza Allen. Partly this was because of her old- 
time connection with Mary, and partly it was be- 
cause the Caseys were the Caseys — so rich in 
human nature that every visit to them, every 
call from them, was an illumination in the ways 
of life. 

Beth was especially concerned to do something 
with or to Pa. But one reason why it was so 
difficult to do anything drastic regarding Casey 
was that he was always on the very eve of "gittin' 
a gran' job." That he hardly ever got any of 
these jobs, or that when he did get one, he failed 
to keep it, did not seem to quench his family's 
faith in him. And before Beth was aware of 
what was happening, the contagion of this hope- 
fulness had spread to her. She had never yet 
seen Pa ; but as day after day she went to see 
Mary and found her in need of everything, but 
splendidly buoyed up by the assurance that 
"yistiddy he was after hearin' of a gran' job 
that a man tell him of, an' to-day he've gon' t' 
see about gittin' it," she, too, was conscious of 
an exhilarating expectancy. 

She always asked eagerly, next time she went, 
if he had got the "gran' job," and was always told 
a harrowing tale of how it had been "give out 



JUST FOLKS 43 

just ten minutes befoore he got there," or how 
"the boss was after givin' it to a man he favored." 
But she began to feel with the Caseys the ex- 
citement of a situation wherein they could not 
tell the moment Pa might get a day's work 
at four dollars. Why, it had even happened, 
several times, that he worked a whole week and 
swaggered in an affluence which kept the family 
dizzy opening parcels. Beth felt that one ought 
not to be "brash" about jailing a man who at 
any moment was likely to be worth four dollars a 
day. 

Almost, Beth told herself, smiling whimsically, 
she was beginning to see the advantages — in 
this life of ours where expectancy is quite as neces- 
sary a staple as sufficiency, if not, indeed, rather 
more necessary — of the continued imminence 
of a grand job over the steady grind of an 
assured wage. 

But there were times, too, when she shared 
the family reaction — the inevitable "slump" 
after too giddy hopefulness. Sometimes this 
took the form of deep depression, sometimes of 
sharp exasperation. It was during one of these 
latter times that Beth ventured to speak again 
of the Juvenile Court. Mary was dubious. 
"It'd make him awful mad," she hazarded. 
Beth thought that was probable. "An' whin 
he's riled, he have a pritty bad temper." Mary 
was at that moment wearing the family panacea, 



44 JUST FOLKS 

a brown paper soaked in vinegar, over a bruise 
on her right temple ; it was this, indeed, that had 
fired Beth to speak. Yes, Beth could believe 
that he had a temper, but she wouldn't ask Mary 
to make the charges — she would do that herself. 
But still Mary wavered. 

"Don't you do it," she pleaded — and Beth 
was not deceived as to Mary's solicitude and for 
whom it was greatest — "for I wouldn't put it 
past him t' lay fer you some night whin he got 
out — he'd be that mad !" 

So the regeneration of Pa by process of law 
was kept in abeyance for a while, and Beth 
tried to soften the hard lot of the little Caseys 
by begging enough to get them shod and clad — 
the latter savoring a little of motley, in truth, 
but warm and, when Beth could compass it, 
bright-hued. For instance, when she learned 
the passion of Mollie's soul for red shoes and the 
need of Mollie's feet for shoes of any kind, she 
decided that red would wear as well as black and 
in every other respect would please better, so she 
bought red. They pleased ! Mollie slept with 
them on for three nights, meeting all remonstrance 
with : — 

"Agin I take thim off, how do I know I'll iver 
see thim anny more ?" 

Then Beth intervened and confidence was in- 
duced in Mollie. Alas, it was doomed to a vio- 
lent shaking very soon. 



JUST FOLKS 45 

Midget came over to Liza Allen's one afternoon 
in a state of woe so far beyond speech that it was 
a long time before Liza and Beth could make 
out what had happened. At length : — 

"We're after bein' robbed!" Midget wailed 
between her sobs. And then, little by little, 
came the details — such meagre details as there 
were. Mollie's red shoes and stockings were 
gone, and Midget's red dress was gone, and 
other warm, pawnable, whole things of recent 
acquisition were gone. 

In an instant, Beth's mind framed an accusa- 
tion, but she stopped herself just short of de- 
livering it. 

"Who," she faltered instead, "who could 
have robbed you, Midget ?" 

Midget dried her tears momentarily, while the 
mystery and delicious excitability of the thing 
outweighed the woe of it. 

"We dunno," she said, "but my ma have a 
lady frien' wid a young gen'leman son that's 
a burglar — that's his business — an' we think 
mebbe he done it." 

Midget was very matter-of-fact about the 
young gentleman's business, and mentioned it in 
quite the same casual tone she would have em- 
ployed had she said he was a plumber or an ice- 
man, and she seemed fatalistic about the red 
shoes and the red dress, as if — it being the 
young gentleman's work in the world to "burgle," 



46 JUST FOLKS 

and their small treasures coming in the way of 
his work by reason of his ma having been to 
call on her ma and seen all the new belongings — 
it were futile to combat the inevitable. 

Beth let no breath of her suspicion taint the 
child, but when Midget was gone she blazed 
forth in an anger that fairly startled Liza. Now 
she was going to have him arrested, the miserable 
cur ! The idea of a lot of people who ought to 
know better, standing around "hemming and 
hawing" while a cowardly wretch was robbing 
his little children. The more she railed, the 
madder she got. 

"I'm going right over there !" she announced 
to Liza. 

Liza remonstrated. "He might be to home," 
she urged. 

But Beth only hoped he would be, so she could 
tell him what she thought of him. 

It was a raw, wet evening, and not many per- 
sons were abroad in the bleak, muddy streets as 
Beth, having hurried through an early supper 
with Liza, started out on her mission of venge- 
ance. 

Henry Street was very dark, and the alleyway 
back to the Caseys' door was darker still, but 
Beth did not mind darkness. Long since she 
had got over the idea that people who are poor 
are probably dangerous ; long ago she had 



JUST FOLKS 47 

learned that Henry Street is many degrees safer 
than Michigan Boulevard. 

Her knock on the kitchen door — she always 
went to the back now and entered as the Caseys 
themselves did, direct from the oozy yard — 
brought Mary to it, and her first glance within 
revealed Pa. 

The kitchen was stifling hot, but Pa sat with 
his feet on the opened door of the oven. His 
coat was off, his shoes were off; he was * 'down to " 
trousers, thick woollen socks, and a heavy woollen 
undershirt of a hideous mustard-colored hue. 
It was some minutes before he chanced so to 
turn his face that the feeble lamplight shone full 
on it and Beth got a real idea of how he looked. 
The first few minutes of their conversation — 
and immediately she had entered and been in- 
troduced, Pa assumed the whole burden of her 
entertainment — she was able to see him only in 
silhouette and to hear his voice, which had a 
pleasant low pitch and was full of notes whose 
plaintiveness all but disarmed her. He was 
telling her of the difficulties of the labor situation, 
the hard position he was forced into by the in- 
flexibility of his "princ'ples," and his inclination 
to believe that "if this here Sociable party was 
to git elected, things would be better for the 
lab'rin' min." And Mary and the children 
listened, spellbound with awe and admiration of 
him. 



48 JUST FOLKS 

When Beth remembered about the theft of the 
red shoes she felt somehow unable to refer to it 
in the way she had meant to. Instead, she com- 
miserated Pa on his loss, and Pa rewarded her 
with as fine a flow of vituperation of the "t'ief " 
as she could in her moment of greatest indignation 
have desired. Almost, as she listened, Beth 
found herself on the point of offering Pa an apol- 
ogy for the accusation she had harbored against 
him but had not uttered. 

No ; he had not reported his loss to the police. 
"Thim coppers niver take no intrust in a poor 
man, and annyway they niver ketch nothin'." 
Why, Pa had even heard it whispered, in high 
circles, where they know such things, that "the 
coppers is in cahoots wid de robbers all de time ! " 
No, he hadn't charged anything against the 
young gentleman whose known business it was 
to burgle, because they had no sort of evidence 
against him, and 'tis a grave crime to accuse a 
man falsely ; also, his ma was a nice lady that 
Casey wouldn't want to offend, and anyway, 
he was going to buy Mollie and Midget red 
dresses and red shoes "t' beat th' band," when 
he got the grand job that was promised him for 
next week sure. 

He got up as he said this and moved his chair, 
and Beth had her first glimpse of his face. It 
was almost the most inoffensive face she had 
ever seen, youthfully round in outline and guile- 



JUST FOLKS 49 

less in expression. The big Irish-blue eyes were 
wonderfully appealing, and when Pa smiled, 
Beth could see where the children got their 
lovely dimples — even under grime and stubble 
Pa's persisted. 

Much baffled by the problem of Pa was Beth, 
when she got to Liza's, but Hart Ferris, who was 
awaiting her there, laughed at her perplexity. 

"Why, Beth dear," he said, "that rapscallion 
probably had the pawn-ticket for those red things 
in his pocket when he was talking to you ! A 
nice little sentimentalist like you is no match for 
Pa ! Now, just to show you, I'm going to drop 
in at Maxwell Street police station as I go home, 
and ask my old friend, Sergeant Doonan, to 
see if he can't find out what Pa did with those red 
shoes. No, of course the police don't care — on 
general principles — but I'm going to explain to 
Doonan ; he has a sense of humor, and he doesn't 
mind obliging a newspaper man now and then, 
when it's just as easy as not. You wait and see ! " 

"Sure, I'll find out!" roared Doonan, when 
Ferris told him. Beth and her "job" were a 
huge joke to Doonan, and he decidedly relished 
this opportunity of belittling the judgment of any 
girl who meddled in police matters. "I'll pinch 
him to-night and sweat him a bit ; ten to one 
we'll find the ticket on him." 

They did ! And they "took it off of" him — 



So JUST FOLKS 

which was not according to law, of course ; for 
the law allows a man to steal from his own chil- 
dren ; even to steal that which he had no part 
in giving them. But the law felt able to take a 
few liberties with Casey without fear of his 
retaliating. 

Doonan sent an officer, first thing next morning, 
over to Liza Allen's to give the pawn-ticket to 
Beth. The officer said he would go with her to 
the pawnshop if she wanted to redeem the things, 
and Beth accepted the offer. Out of her own 
meagre salary Beth bought back the things, 
and when she had got them, she went direct to 
Henry Street. The officer was much amused 
by the purposeful stride of her and the look of 
stern determination in her face. Secretly he 
hoped Pa was at home ; he wanted the fun of 
standing by and seeing Pa confronted by the 
angry little "p'leece lady" with the recovered 
property. 

Pa was not at home. His pursuit of the grand 
job had begun unusually early that morning. 
So Beth dismissed the officer — who judged there- 
from that she had been a bit afraid of facing Pa 
with "the ividince" — and further, withdrew 
Mary apart from the children and into the 
" front room," before opening her parcel and 
disclosing the contents. 

"Fer the love o' Hivin !" cried Mary, de- 
lightedly. "Wheer did ye git thim ?" 



JUST FOLKS 51 

She made a move toward the door as if to call 
the children to acclaim their recovered treasures. 
But Beth stopped her. 

"Wait!" she said. 

It was harder to do than she had thought it 
would be. If only Mary Casey had looked in- 
dignant ! But she didn't ; she looked stricken, 
and the tears rolled slowly down her shrunken 
cheeks. 

"I t'ought he was free-an'-aisy-like," she 
sobbed. " I knew he didn't have rale ambition t' 
git on, but I niver t'ought he'd do a t'ing like 
this!" 

Beth was young, but she was old enough to 
have lived through the experience of being brought 
face to face with irrefutable proof that some one 
she yearned to believe in was baser than she had 
supposed possible — yes, and to have hated the 
proof-producer ! So she knew how Mary felt, 
and how to be grateful when that distressed 
woman did not turn on her husband's accuser. 

"Don't tell thim," Mary pleaded, meaning 
the children. "'Tis hard enough fer thim to be 
patient wid him annyway, an' sure it could'n' 
do no good to anny wan fer thim children to 
know theer pa's a — to know he've been lid into 
doin' mean by thim." 

So Beth promised and went on her way, 
pondering these things in her heart. That was 
"dependent children's day "in the Juvenile Court, 



52 JUST FOLKS 

and Beth rather puzzled the judge by the hesi- 
tancy with which she reported on the cases to 
which she had been detailed. She didn't seem to 
know the exact merits of any of them. 

On her way home, she stopped at Henry Street 
and found, as she had feared to find, the Caseys 
supperless. 

"If Midget will come to Blue Island Avenue 
with me," said the contrite Beth, "I'll send back 
a little 'treat'." 

Midget went. 

"What would you like most of anything?" 
Beth asked, anticipating a demand for lemon 
cream pie and determined not to oppose it. 

"Oyster stew!" said Midget, promptly. 

At the store — where, Beth learned afterward, 
Midget claimed Beth as her "aunt" — they 
bought a quart of bulk oysters, a bag of crackers, 
half a pound of butter, and two quarts of 
milk. 

"Are you sure your ma knows how to make 
oyster stew ?" Beth asked, as she helped Midget 
home with her purchases. 

"Oh, yes'm, she know how to make it fine," 
Midget cried, hopping along happily but at great 
risk of churning the milk she carried. "An' my 
pa just love it !" 

Beth stopped stock-still on the sidewalk, and 
for a mad moment she struggled with the impulse 
to dump the oysters out in the street. Then the 



JUST FOLKS S3 

happiness of the child beside her made her 
ashamed. 

"I'm just as bad as the charity organizations," 
she told herself when she had seen Midget safely 
down the rickety stairs with her "spilly" 
treasure. "I'd almost let Mary Casey and those 
children starve rather than feed him." 

That evening when Hart Ferris called, full of 
eagerness to learn how his intervention had 
affected the Caseys, Beth surprised him by saying 
that she must go out. 

"I had to talk to you alone," she explained 
when they were on the street. "Somehow the 
things I want to say wouldn't say themselves 
before dear old Liza Allen — I don't know why, 
but they wouldn't." 

"And you aren't going to do a thing — even 
now?" Ferris urged, when Beth had told him. 

"I don't know — " she began feebly. 

"Why, Beth," he said, "the law—" 

She drew her arm a little closer through his in 
an appealing way that made Ferris look down at 
her tenderly. 

"This isn't the law," she said. "This is—" 

"Is what?" 

They were passing a street lamp and Ferris 
paused a moment to scan the earnest little face. 

"I don't know," whispered Beth, "I don't 
know — the — the gospel, I guess." And then 
she t51d him about the oysters. "I think — 



54 JUST FOLKS 

don't be shocked," she said, "but I think I know 
how God feels — in a way. It came over me 
to-night, all of a sudden, when I had resisted 
my impulse to spill the oysters. You see, Hart, 
even God can't keep the innocent from suffering 
with the guilty, or the guilty from enjoying the 
sun and starshine, same as the pure in heart. 
Or, if He can, He doesn't. Then why should 
we — " 



IV 

"Don't do it again, my boy," the judge said 
kindly, dismissing the case of a badly scared 
youngster arrested for begging street-car trans- 
fers. "If you didn't know before that it was 
wrong, you know now." 

Before the dazed boy and his frightened parents 
could realize that the law was temporarily through 
with them, the chief probation officer had touched 
the button at his desk beside the judge's ; a 
bailiff was directing the dismissed group out the 
front door of the court room, and another bailiff 
was ushering a new group in at the side door. 

The departing group was Bohemian — stolid, 
slow of speech, inclined to be sullen ; the arriving 
group was Jewish — Russian Jewish — but un- 
usually animated for that race. A decided stir 
seemed to come with them into the court room, 
and the moment they were in, it became appar- 
ent where the "stir" generated. The prisoner 
at the bar, the offender against law and order, 
was a very small boy, with very big, very scared- 
looking bright black eyes ; he was arraigned for 
throwing a ball through the store windows of one 
Karnowitz, on Twelfth Street. But the con- 
versational energy of the party was vested in the 

ss 



56 JUST FOLKS 

prisoner's mother, a wee woman with purply-red 
cheeks colored by a network of broken veins, 
beady bright eyes, and a volubility that made 
her sibilant "s's" sound like escaping steam. 

"Herman," said the judge, consulting the data 
of the case he held in his hand, "you were 
arrested for breaking a window in Karnowitz's 
store." 

Here Karnowitz jumped excitedly into the 
discussion. He was an Oriental-looking Semite, 
stoop-shouldered, hook-nosed, gray-bearded — 
such a Ghetto type as an artist would immediately 
select for his representativeness and for his 
pictorial qualities. 

"Yess!" he cried, worming his way through 
the little crowd of witnesses and court officials 
to the judge's desk and shaking an expressive 
Hebraic forefinger under the judge's very nose. 
"Und how many times I toldt — " 

"I'm talking to Herman," said the judge, re- 
provingly. "Your turn will come by and by; 
I'll let you tell your story after I hear his. Why 
did you do it, Herman ? Don't you know win- 
dows are expensive, and that it isn't right for 
you to throw a ball where it may break a window ? 
Don't you know that, to keep you from the 
danger of breaking a window, the law says you 
mustn't play ball in the street ?" 

"Iss it sucha lawss ? He ain'd knowed it iss 
sucha lawss," began Herman's mother, shrilly. 



JUST FOLKS 57 

"In dees coundry iss sucha many lawss — more 
as Russia ! — we cand't know all dose lawss !" 

The judge turned sharply on the purple- 
cheeked little woman and rapped on his desk with 
a ruler to emphasize his words. "I want it 
understood that I am talking to Herman Rubo- 
vitz," he said, "and the next person who answers 
a question I ask Herman will be put out of the 
court room ! Now Herman — " 

And the questioning went on — patient, kindly, 
encouraging — till Herman got over his fright 
and began to tell the court, confidentially, just 
how it happened. 

The court showed fine understanding of a boy's 
temptations, but firm respect for the rights of 
Karnowitz and for the majesty of the law. 
Then Karnowitz was allowed to tell his troubles, 
briefly,, and the court reminded him that Ghetto 
boys have not many places to play ball except in 
the street, and urged that due leniency be showed 
to youth, if youth had a will to make amends. 

"Are you sorry, Herman, that you disobeyed 
the law, and that you broke the window in Mr. 
Karnowitz's shop ?" Herman nodded. "And 
will you promise me faithfully that you will work 
and earn money to pay him for a new window ?" 

"He cand't ! It is lawss for him nod to work," 
shrilled his mother. 

The judge silenced her with a look. "How 
old are you, Herman ?" 



58 JUST FOLKS 

"I'm going to fourteen by Sebtember." 

"Well, you mustn't wait till September to 
pay Mr. Karnowitz — you must sell papers or 
run errands or do something to earn money for 
that window this summer. Mr. Karnowitz is a 
poor man — he's had to buy a new window to 
keep his goods from getting spoiled or stolen — 
you must pay that money back to him as soon 
as you can — he needs it. Will you promise ?" 
Again Herman nodded. " Then I'll put you on 
probation with Miss Tully ; she'll let me know 
how you get on, and if you don't keep your prom- 
ise she'll tell me and have you brought here again. 
And the next time I can't let you off so easy. 
Do you understand ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

The buzzer sounded, a bailiff ushering a big 
group of colored persons appeared in the side 
door, and another bailiff directed the Rubovitzes 
and Karnowitz and their needless witnesses and 
friends out into the front hall, where little Beth 
Tully, fair-haired and blue-eyed, took charge of 
Herman and his mother. 

"Where do you live ?" she askedMrs. Rubovitz. 

"By Henry Streedt — twendy-one." 

"Why, I thought you looked familiar!" cried 
Beth. "I've seen you when I've been to call 
on the Casey s." 

"Caseys liff by de rear," said Mrs. Rubovitz, 
with scorn. "We liff by de frondt." 



JUST FOLKS 59 

Beth began to scent a caste other than racial 
and religious. "I am very fond of Mrs. Casey," 
she said firmly. Mrs. Rubovitz sniffed. Beth 
turned to Herman. "I'll be over to see you to- 
morrow, Herman, and we'll talk over what you 
had better do about earning that money." 

And with that she turned and went back into 
the court room. Then something smote her 
suddenly, and she darted out again and into the 
street after the Rubovitzes. 

"I want you," she said, clutching Mrs. Rubo- 
vitz by the arm, "to promise me one thing — 
promise me you won't beat Herman, or let his 
father beat him ! He's going to do what he can 
to make this thing right — he's sorry for what 
happened, and he's going to be more careful. 
I don't want him whipped." 

Mrs. Rubovitz stiffened. "That iss parendt's 
beeziness," she began. 

Beth shook her sharply by the arm. "No, it 
isn't," she said. "You foreign parents think it's 
the most of your business ; and it isn't. You beat 
all the spirit out of your children, instead of 
teaching them what is right. Now, if you beat 
Herman for this — for being arrested" — she 
caught the glitter of the beadlike eyes — "oh, 
yes ! I know you have beaten him for it — but 
if you do it again — now — when you get home 
— to-night — or any time — I'm going to take 
him away from you. Do you hear ?" 



60 JUST FOLKS 

There was such fire in the little " p'leece lady's " 
tones that Mrs. Rubovitz shrank away from 
her. "Yess," she murmured, "yess — I ain'd 
goin' to." 

But Herman, staring with wondering big eyes 
up at the little lady who was standing thus 
valiantly between him and a fierce whipping, 
slipped a dirty small hand into hers and squeezed 
it silently. And Beth knew she had made a 
friend. 

"I'll bet she beat him anyway," said Liza 
Allen, with angry scepticism. "Them Roosians 
is so handy with their beatin's." 

"No, she didn't," Beth rejoined, with spirit, 
"for I made the Caseys promise to tell me if they 
heard Herman cry — and I made Herman swear 
his most solemn and sacred 'swear' to tell me 
if she had or if his father had. Oh!" Beth's 
blue eyes flashed fire, "if I couldn't do another 
thing for these poor children of the foreigners but 
save them a few of the beatings that are always, 
always coming to them I'd feel as if my labors 
were worth while. Every time, as I go through 
the streets or up into the tenements, I hear that 
unmistakable cry of a child being whipped, it 
freezes the very blood in my veins. I don't 
mean that a child who is too young to reason 
with ought never to be spanked when it is naughty, 
but these people beat their children — little and 



JUST FOLKS 61 

big — cruelly. The law of this country ought 
not to allow it." 

"How many Rubovitzes are there?" Hart 
Ferris's tone was cool, casual, but Beth knew he 
was trying to lead her from the subject that 
stirred her to such a trying degree and made her 
determined little voice quaver pathetically with 
a great pity and indignation. 

"Seven — small ones," she answered, giving 
him a grateful, understanding look, "and the 
parents — Russian Jews. He is what the Ghetto 
calls a 'yunker,' I think — a buyer and seller 
of cast-off somethings. And she was a tailoress 
in the London Ghetto — a refugee like himself — 
when he married her there. I believe all, or 
nearly all, the children were born here, though. 
He's good for nothing, drunken, and cruel. 
When she asked him for money to pay 
the rent so they wouldn't get ' set out,' what 
do you suppose he said ? 'Why should I pay 
rent to Mis' Shugar?' Mrs. Shugar is the 
landlady. 'Ain'd I bin in this coundry 
longer ass Mis' Shugar ? An' I don' own no 
house'!" 

Ferris laughed. "That's about the average 
political economy of his kind," he said, "and I'll 
guarantee he's a citizen and casts his vote, and 
gets it counted twice, like as not ! Who sup- 
ports them ?" 

"The mother, if you can call it support," 



62 JUST FOLKS 

said Beth, " aided now and then by the Hebrew 
Charities or by the county. She finishes gar- 
ments for a sweat shop and earns about sixty 
cents a day, if she works all day. I don't believe 
they ever have a meal — a real meal ; the loaf 
of bread lies on the dirty kitchen table all the 
time, and the tea-pot boils all day on the stove, 
and maybe there is a piece of 'smelly' fish, or 
some scraps of meat with all the juice 'koshered' 
out of it ; and when one of the children gets 
hungry he runs in and grabs a bite and runs out 
again with it in his hand." 

"Them furriners has tur'ble tacky ways !" 
observed Liza Allen, biting off a thread. Beth 
and Ferris loved the smugness and severity of 
her condemnation — her complete unconscious- 
ness that, viewed from some standpoints they 
knew, her "ways" were hardly a degree less 
"tacky" than the ways of the "Roosians." 

The satisfiedness of Liza was never offensive, 
and never harsh, if you understood her. Rather 
was it a never-failing delight — yes, and a 
rebuke ! Liza was complacent about Joe and 
his "learnin'" and his handsome funeral ; about 
her flat and its elegant comforts ; about her 
American birth, and her membership in The 
Daughters of the Bonny Blue Flag ; she was 
even complacent about the quality of her 
dressmaking, and felicitated her customers that 
they came to her instead of getting their "goods 



JUST FOLKS 63 

all cobbled up by some of the folks that calls 
theirselves dressmakers in these days !" 

She was whipping the seams of a basque now, 
and Beth was threading needles for her as usual ; 
while Ferris, who had been discharged from his 
responsible job of "pullin' bastin's" because he 
"yanked too hard" and broke the threads, was 
making a feint of being busy unravelling the 
bastings Beth had pulled, and winding them 
carefully on a spool, to be used again. 

The weather was warm now — hot, sometimes, 
for it was the end of May — and Beth and Ferris 
might reasonably have been expected to spend the 
evenings when he came, out of doors. They 
did sometimes, but oftener it was — to Beth's 
secret happiness and amusement — Ferris himself 
who proposed staying in with Liza. Her dis- 
cussions of current topics — world affairs, and 
national, and civic — gave him unlimited en- 
joyment, and copy. 

The fact that Liza seldom stirred far from 
Maxwell Street, that the travels of her lifetime 
were comprised in that one memorable flitting 
from Steubenville to Chicago, that she sat 
all day and every day, and far into the nights, 
even Sunday, sometimes — "I don't b'leeve 
God cares a mite !" she said about this Sabbath- 
breaking. "Fust time I done it I was plum 
scared — but, land ! It's like fergettin' yer 
prayers ; after you done it a couple o' times an' 



64 JUST FOLKS 

seen things moves on 'bout the same without 
your orderin' 'em, it gits so easy you don' notice 
it" — none of these things kept Liza from com- 
menting freely and decisively upon matters 
of the deepest philosophy and the most world- 
wide importance. She was a real "cracker- 
barrel sage" in petticoats, and Hart Ferris, 
with "Mr. Dooley" in mind, was projecting a 
"signed column" of Liza's wisdom for his 
paper. 

"Wouldn't it be fine poetic justice," said 
Beth, when this project was discovered to her, 
"if, after the way you 'took on' about my being 
in the slums at all, and my coming to board with 
Liza in particular, she should turn out to be the 
fairy-godmother of your writing fortunes ? I 
tell you, Hart, the real things, worth writing 
about, are over here, and I'm glad there's some- 
thing, if it's only I, that brings you over here, 
where the real things are." 

"The Rubovitzes are likely to give you a good 
deal to do, I should think," Ferris remarked to 
Beth, but hoping to "draw out" Liza Allen 
further on the subject of aliens. 

Yes, Beth thought it more than likely they 
would. "There's Pa," she began, then checked 
herself remembering Pa Casey. "Of course," 
she went on, "I don't know Pa Rubovitz or what 
his extenuating virtues are — if any ! But on 
the surface, it looks as if Pa's political opinions, 



JUST FOLKS 65 

at least, need readjustment. And there's — 
Why! Who's that?" 

There were sounds of hastening feet clattering, 
stumbling, up the dark stairs, and in a moment 
Liza's sitting-room door burst unceremoniously- 
open, and Herman Rubovitz stood in the 
doorway, pale, panting, and wild-eyed. 

"Teacher ! Teacher !" he cried, when he saw 
Beth. "Come quick ! Our Abey's got a fit an' 
our ma ain't to home." 

Without waiting even to snatch up her hat, 
Beth followed the frantic boy, and Ferris followed 
her. They hurried too fast to talk, but fast as 
Beth and Ferris went, Herman outran them and 
left them to finish the last lap of their race un- 
guided by so much as the echo of his flying heels. 

It was almost dog-day hot this unseasonable 
May night, and all the Ghetto was out of doors ; 
some were asleep on door-steps, garbage boxes, 
and elsewhere ; others sat, talking or silent, as 
was their nature, dreading the return to stifling 
sleeping- rooms. The streets were full of children 
playing. 

Early in the evening, Dewey Casey had laid 
himself down in the narrow passageway between 
the tenement he lived in and the one next door, 
and gone to sleep ; nor was he disturbed by the 
cursing of those who stumbled over him in the 
pitchy dark. But presently some one, less re- 
signed to obstacles than the others, removed 



66 JUST FOLKS 

Dewey from the path with no gentle foot, and 
shrieks of resentment rent the air. 

Mary Casey flew to the rescue and carried 
Dewey, kicking and screaming, to the top of 
the stairs which led down from the sidewalk to 
their alleyway ; there she sat down with him 
and tried to divert his mind from his injuries 
by urging on his notice such objects of interest 
as the teeming little street, gasping for breath 
on a muggy night, afforded. She was sitting 
there, about nine o'clock, when the Rubovitz 
front door was flung open and Herman made a 
dash for the steps, crying, "Ma ! Where's 
Ma?" 

" Yer ma ain't here," said Mary Casey, making 
way for him. "I see her about an hour ago, her 
an' the two little gurls, an' first they stopped to 
talk wid Mis' Rosenberg, thin they wint on 
towards Blue Island Avenoo." 

Herman began to cry. "Abey's dyin'," he 
sobbed, and fled in the direction of the avenue, 
where he kept up his futile calling as he sped 
toward Maxwell Street and Beth. 

"Fer the love o' God!" cried Mary Casey; 
and gathering up the now sleeping Dewey, 
she hurried down the steep, creaking stairs into 
the Stygian blackness in which the lowest step 
was lost. 

Her knock brought Rachel Rubovitz, a wizened 
mite of ten, to the door. 



JUST FOLKS 6/ 

"What's wrong ?" Mary Casey demanded of 
her. 

For answer the child pointed to Abey, the 
youngest Rubovitz, who lay limp and apparently 
lifeless in a terrible spasm. 

Mary Casey was tolerably familiar with spasms 
and she made haste to light the oil-stove and set 
on a kettle of water, which was, she remem- 
bered, the first thing the doctor always ordered 
when any of her children had "been took." 

Mrs. Rubovitz, it seemed, had left Abey asleep 
on the bed in one of the windowless, stifling closets 
that served the Rubovitzes for bedrooms. Ra- 
chel was charged to "mind him," and told 
to give him a drink of milk if he woke up. He 
had waked, poor little mite, steaming and cross, 
as he had a right to be, and Rachel had given 
him the cup of milk her mother left on the kitchen 
table for that purpose. 

Abey drank it greedily, crying between gulps, 
and then, "hardly he hadn't it down," Rachel 
explained, "when he gives a queer noise and 
goes like that." 

He was still "like that," stark and still, 
Mary Casey weeping softly over him and crooning 
to him while she tried to chafe his little rigid 
limbs, when Beth and Ferris got there. 

It was a picture for a modern Rembrandt, 
a picture of more compelling human interest 
than "The School of Anatomy." The Rubovitz 



68 JUST FOLKS 

kitchen was dark and dirty, with a kind of an- 
cient, old-world darkness and dirtiness which 
seemed to invest the Henry Street cellar with an 
air as of centuries of grime and poverty. The 
lamp on the bracket above the sink only faintly 
lighted the room and the faces which showed 
so white and anxious against the dusk as they 
bent over the stark atom of humanity in the 
wash-tub. 

There was almost an hour of intense battle for 
that little life before a doctor came — many 
doctors practise in the Ghetto, but not many 
live there — and when Ferris finally got back 
with a man who knew what to do, and could do it, 
and realized that it was not too late, that Abey 
might still be saved, he was conscious of an 
exultation he would never have dreamed possible 
over a child he had not seen before. The splendid, 
swelling passion of the saver of life, of the life of 
a helpless little child in agony, filled his veins with 
a strange new feeling, and as he mopped his 
streaming brow and watched the look of life 
come back into Abey's wee white body, he was 
aware of a revulsion from sick fear to restored 
confidence that quite unnerved him. 

He looked around for Beth, and found that 
with her, too, the reaction had been strong; 
for when she knew that Abey would live, she 
had sat weakly down, faint with the fright 



JUST FOLKS 69 

that comes to us after a danger has been 
passed. 

"It isn't his teeth," said the man of medicine, 
when he had pried open Abey's mouth and 
examined his gums. "What has he had to 
eat?" 

Rachel told about the milk. Was there any 
left ? No, Abey had drained the cup. Where 
had they bought it ? At Goldstein's store 
on Henry Street. 

To Ferris the doctor murmured something 
about "formalin," and gave Abey an antidote. 
Then he signed to Ferris to go with him, and the 
two men made their way to the top of the creaking 
stairs and along staring Henry Street — fully 
informed of all that had happened to Abey — 
to the store. 

The store was closed, but Goldstein answered 
the doctor's knocking and came to the door 
through which, the moment he opened it, mingled 
smells, all bad, rushed assaultingly. Barrels of 
salt fish stank abominably, and mingled with 
their dominant smell was an indescribable accom- 
paniment of kerosene, sauerkraut, rank vinegar, 
musty flour, decaying fruits and vegetables, and 
hideous cheese. 

"I want to buy some milk," the doctor said. 
Goldstein struck a match and lighted the lamp 
which hung from the low ceiling. "Nod much 
off milk iss left," he said sourly. 



jo JUST FOLKS 

"Where do you get your milk?" the doctor 
asked. 

Goldstein was half asleep, but he was not to be 
caught napping. Meddling persons had come 
around before, inquiring into the condition of his 
goods, and he resented it ; it was part of the un- 
just persecution of the chosen people, he felt, 
and racial as well as personal duty demanded 
that he frustrate these persons if he could. 

"By a milkman — hees name I do nod know," 
said Israel. 

"I'll give you till ten o'clock to-morrow morn- 
ing to remember his name," the doctor replied. 
" If you can't — the police will have to help you." 

Then, in a flood of recollection, it came over 
Israel who that milkman was. 

Somehow, as Ferris said, when you have 
fought for the life of a kid — even if your part 
of the fight has only been in running like mad 
for the doctor — and have won, you can't ever 
feel quite ordinary and indifferent about that 
kid any more. You kind of want him to thrive 
and prosper and grow up into a good kid if 
only to prove to you and to the world how well 
worth your effort to save him he was. 

Ferris felt that way about Abey, and about 
the Rubovitzes as Abey's kin. He wrote a story 
for the paper about the formalin poisoning, and 
the story — doubtless because he was writing 



JUST FOLKS 71 

intimately, from a particular case, and not 
broadly, in generalities — was very appealing, 
and started a fresh wave of indignation and re- 
form directed against the unscrupulous dealers 
who risk the lives of little children. And the 
managing editor praised the story, and said Ferris 
ought to be given more of that sort of thing to 
do. "It's in the air and people like it." And 
two women's clubs asked Ferris to come and tell 
them about the best ways to crusade for pure 
milk. Ferris didn't relish this very much, but 
it was a "good card" for him with the managing 
editor. He didn't know much about the milk 
supply, but he set himself to find out ; and when 
he had learned something about it, he found it 
so interesting that he could stand up and talk 
to the women's clubs about it with no sense of 
being "dinky," as he had at first declared he 
should feel, and with an earnestness which moved 
the women to do real things for the cause. 

Thus Ferris was finding out for himself, as 
each of us must if we are ever to know it at all, 
the one particular wherein "the slums" — so- 
called — contradict rather than confirm a general 
principle of human nature. Usually, where we 
go expecting to get rather than to give, we get 
least. But not so in the slurns. No one gets 
anything appreciable from the slums, who goes 
there full of the idea of w T hat he is about to give 
them. Liza Allen had begun to show Ferris 



72 JUST FOLKS 

what the slums could give him, and Abey Rubo 
vitz — no more unconsciously than Liza — had 
continued the demonstration. 

When the excitement about Abey's "fit" 
had died down — and perhaps you think there 
wasn't envy in Henry Street, where fits are 
common, to see how much was made of Abey's ! 
— Ferris began to feel almost as much stared 
in the face by the Rubovitz necessities as if he 
and not Pa were responsible for the family wel- 
fare. For, of course, when you've helped to 
save a baby from death by poisoned food, you 
hate to see him die from no food at all ! 

A fellow learned a lot of things when he found 
himself in the position of guide, philosopher, 
and friend to a family like the Rubovitzes. 

First of all, there was Herman's promise to earn 
the money to pay Karnowitz. Ferris investi- 
gated and found that Karnowitz was more than 
able to wait. But when he reported this to Beth, 
that small person shook her head and murmured 
something about "the law." 

"Herman broke the window, and he promised 
to pay," she said. "The law takes no cognizance 
of the fact that Herman needs bread and Karno- 
witz owns three houses on Twelfth Street. It 
is bad for Herman to be hungry, but it would be 
worse for him to have our aid in evading the law." 
, "Oh, hang the law!" said Ferris, crossly. 

Beth opened her blue eyes wide in well- 



JUST FOLKS 73 

simulated surprise. "Why, Hart Ferris !" she 
said. 

"You know what I mean !" he retorted, 
"The law's all right — in the abstract — I sup- 
pose. But when you get down to cases it doesn't 
ever seem to fit." 

"No," Beth agreed soberly, "it doesn't. But 
we can't tell Herman that — not yet !" 

So Herman was relentlessly supervised in the 
weekly handing over of his newspaper pennies 
to Karnowitz until the truly awful sum of four 
dollars had been paid. 

Meantime, of course, Ferris was not only 
slipping Mrs. Rubovitz a dollar or two every 
time he came, but he was telling his friends about 
her and getting here a bit and there a bit, to 
help her. He "passed the hat" in the city room 
when the rent had to be paid, and raged silently 
as he gave the money into Mrs. Shugar's own 
hands, to think how complacently Pa would 
accept it as America's due to him. 

Like a good many other earnest persons bat- 
tling with pain and want and aspiring to find a 
panacea, Ferris was glad oftentimes — when 
even individual cure seemed beyond hope — to 
grasp at the merest alleviation. 

About the middle of June, an alleviation pre- 
sented itself. It was called "The Greatest 



74 JUST FOLKS 

Show on Earth or Elsewhere!" and Ferris, 
knowing the chief press agent, got "quite a 
bunch" of tickets. 

He was more delighted than Beth had ever 
seen him, for he was going to take Liza Allen 
and a whole flock of Rubovitzes and Caseys. 
Liza had been to a circus once in Steubenville, 
with Adam Spear, forty years ago, but none of the 
Caseys or Rubovitzes had even the faintest idea 
what a circus was like. 

In vain, except for Beth's secret amusement, 
Ferris "lined up" his prospective party before 
the hoardings on Blue Island Avenue and pointed 
out tigers, and elephants, and giraffes, and rhi- 
noceroses, and performing seals. The "fauna" 
of Henry Street was limited to horse, dog, cat, 
and butcher-shop chicken, and Henry Street 
stood unmoved before the lithographs of creatures 
it could not comprehend. 

"Wait till they see them!" Ferris said to 
Beth. Also, alas, in vain ! 

The party arrived early, to inspect the menag- 
erie at leisure and get back to their seats before 
the " grand entry." Speechless they stood before 
the long line of elephants swinging their restless 
trunks and opening wide their mouths in frequent 
invitations for small peanuts. Presently, "What 
hangs down?" whispered Benny Rubovitz to 
Beth, in a tone more alarmed than merely in- 
quiring. 



JUST FOLKS 75 

The wolves and bears and sundry other animals 
passed more or less unnoticed, as "dogs" of 
strange breeds. Little Rosie Rubovitz, next 
older than Abey, was in Ferris's arms and, at 
sight of the lions, her lovely little face dimpled 
with pleasure. "Kittie ! Kittie!" she cried, 
and reached out her tiny hand as if to "pat." 
It was Mollie Casey who capped the climax, 
though. Turning from the camels, with a look 
of deep disgust, she said to Beth, "I don't 
like thim very well, do you?" 

"I'm afraid," said Beth to Ferris in an under- 
tone, " that our guests are a little shy on natural 
history, to get a great deal out of this." 

"Natural history, nothing!" Ferris returned, 
with spirit. "They're shy on the commonest 
rights of childhood — that's what they're shy 
on ! 

But, notwithstanding their acceptance of danc- 
ing elephants and band-playing seals as ordi- 
nary — for all the children knew, these were the 
regular pastimes of the strange animals in their 
native haunts — Ferris's party had an exceedingly 
good time at the circus. They loved the 
"purrade," shrieked at the clowns, and rose — 
the boys of them — to a perfect frenzy of excite- 
ment over some of the acrobatics, and particu- 
larly over the men who rode, standing, two horses 
at once, while driving a long string of others 
ahead. 



76 JUST FOLKS 

"Gee !" breathed Johnny Casey, standing up 
and -watching, watching, with straining, staring 
eyes. "That's something to do — all right, all 
right!" 

"I'm glad 'tain't me that has to earn my livin' 
that way," observed Liza, devoutly. She didn't 
say much else, but Beth and Ferris both knew the 
greatest pleasure she got out of the circus was 
feeling sorry for the "folks" that were obliged 
to be in it. 

During an interval when the clowns were the 
chief performers and the children were laughing 
hysterically, Liza seemed lost in thought so 
serious that Beth asked her suggestively, "What 
is it?" 

"I was thinkin' 'bout Mis' Nation," said Liza, 
abstractedly. 

"Mis' Who?" 

"Carrie Nation." One of the clowns was im- 
personating Carrie with her hatchet. "She's 
a consid'rable younger 'n' spryer woman'n I 
took her to be." 

" I'm afraid it wasn't a very successful party," 
said Ferris to Beth when he was bidding her 
good night at the top of Liza Allen's dark stairs. 

"It was a very successful party," Beth assured 
him, with a tender little emphasis of her own 
sweet kind, "and don't you ever doubt it. It's 
no sign of failure because they didn't get exactly 



JUST FOLKS 77 

what you thought they'd get out of it. Joy 
is a various commodity, dear. And don't you 
ever tell Liza it wasn't really Carrie Nation she 
saw. It would break her heart!" 

When Herman's debt to Karnowitz was paid, 
school was out and Ferris undertook to see what 
he could do about getting Herman a permit to 
work at some slightly safer and surer calling than 
"flipping" Halsted Street cars selling newspapers. 
Herman would be fourteen in September, and 
Ferris apprehended no difficulty in getting him 
a permit from the state factory inspector. But 
Ferris, being a newspaper man, ought to have 
known better. A wave of outraged public senti- 
ment had recently hit the always indefatigable 
office of the factory inspector very hard, and zeal 
for the saving of little children had mounted on 
the crest of the wave to frenzy. As must happen, 
doubtless, when any fine reform is to be carried 
through, a great deal of unnecessary and un- 
discriminating rigor bore heavily upon many 
who might well have been spared. 

Herman was not fourteen, and he couldn't 
have a permit. That was all there was to it ! 
The inspector was firm. 

"He iss fourdeen by Sebtember t'ird," urged 
Mrs. Rubovitz. "He cand't go to school no 
more before he iss fourdeen — there iss no more 
school before he iss fourdeen. How can he go to 



78 JUST FOLKS 

school till he iss fourdeen,~when it iss no more 
school before he iss fourdeen ? He's fourdeen 
by Sebtember t'ird. It iss no more school 
before Sebtember t'ird ! How can — " 

"That will do !" yelled the inspector, trying to 
stem the torrent of language which was increasing 
in volume and velocity until a catastrophe 
threatened. But the permit was not forth- 
coming. 

"Sucha lawss!" declared Mrs. Rubovitz to 
Ferris as they came away. "Bedtter we might 
have staid by Roosia — there at leasd one can 
vork!" 

Ferris made a faint effort to placate, to explain, 
but Mrs. Rubovitz was not inclined for peace. 

"Und look at dose schoolss !" she cried, 
"Whad do dey teach by dem that iss so much 
bedtter ass to vork ? Always my Rosie comes 
home und brings a leaf, und 'Look, ma, by de 
fairies' carped!' she sayss. Dey learn dem to 
oh ! an' vonder by everyt'ing. Whad way iss 
dat ? I ask you. Do I vish my Rosie by some- 
body's house to bring und dat she should oh ! 
und vonder about everyt'ing, like a child dat's 
never seen nothing to home ? Und las' vinter 
dey tried to gif de childerns bat's [baths] und my 
Jonah comes home und 'Ma, I shouldt be vashed ! ' 
he sayss, und how de teacher tried to have him 
scrubbed all over he tells me, bud he screamed 
und vould not ; und she says come home und tell 



JUST FOLKS 79 

me he must be bat'd, und I sayss 'You can tell 
her I chust god you sewed ub for de vinter und 
I ain'd goin' to take off your clodes before it iss 
spring, nod for no one.' Sucha lawss !" 

"And you can't really blame her for getting 
mad," said Ferris, telling Beth about his ex- 
perience, "for it's all in the point of view, and to 
Mrs. Rubovitz's present viewpoint our benevo- 
lent laws are harder to bear than Russian tyr- 
anny." 

Beth didn't say anything — just narrowed her 
blue eyes in their funny little squint, and looked 
at Ferris. He was learning fairly fast, she de- 
cided. But she was surprised, a few nights later, 
when she had a new way of measuring just what 
Hart Ferris had learned from Maxwell and Henry 
Streets. 

Back in the spring evenings by Liza's lamp, 
Liza had begun to show at times a lagging list- 
lessness that was most unusual with her. And 
one night the secret of it had come out : Joe's 
fun'ral was most paid for ! A week or two 
more of unwearying work, a couple more pay- 
ments, and the splendid tribute for which she 
had been toiling for five years would become a 
memory — a memory only, after having been 
an ever-present incentive through all those years 
it had redeemed from loneliness. 

"Dunno how it'll seem — workin' along fer 



80 JUST FOLKS 

just rent an' vittles," said Liza, admitting her 
quandary to Beth and Ferris. "I ain't never 
done it in my hull life. Even when Joe was took 
I wasn't so bad off, fer I had his fun'ral to work 
fer. But the way things are gittin' now, I don't 
see nothin' ahead." 

Beth didn't know quite how much Ferris 
appreciated this point of view of Liza's, but she 
was to find out. He appeared at Maxwell 
Street, one evening in July, so evidently bursting 
with suppressed excitement that he at once 
communicated to Beth his fever of anxiety to get 
out of the house and away where private talk 
was possible. 

"What is it ?" she begged, almost the moment 
they were out of Liza's hearing. 

"Beth!" he said — and after she had heard 
his news she loved him for the tremor in his 
voice, for the feeling it betrayed — "Beth, dear, 
what do you think ? I've found Adam Spear !" 

"Adam Spear?" 

"Yes ! Liza's Adam Spear, who left her forty 
years ago for sticking to her worthless brother 
Joe." 

"Why, Hart, however — where? Now don't 
tell me he owns a lumber-yard and rides in a 
limousine." 

"Better than that!" Ferris's voice was very 
"trembly," and he squeezed hard the small hand 
he had drawn through his arm. "Better than 



JUST FOLKS 8 1 

that — for Liza, dear ! He's poor and old and 
homeless and decrepit. Won't she be happy with 
him ? And hasn't he come back to her in the 
nick of time ?" 

Then he told her about finding Adam. "When 
Liza first told us about him," he said, "I had a 
queer, 'kid notion' how romantic it would be if 
he should come back — now that Joe's dead and 
his funeral paid for — and make things up to her 
for all the past, in some fairy-tale way. Then I 
laughed at myself for even thinking such a By- Joe 
melodrama could ever happen in real life, and 
forgot all about Adam Spear, until to-day, when 
I went out to Hegewisch to look up a 'murder 
mystery.' I didn't find any very exciting evi- 
dences of a murder, or a mystery, but I found an 
old man who does odd jobs about a carpenter 
shop, who was said to ' know 's much about it 's 
anybody.' I guess he did, but it wasn't much. 
He was a gabby old party, and to get out of 
him what I wanted, I had to let him tell me about 
everything he knew. Somewhere in the auto- 
biography, I caught 'Steubenville,' and kind o' 
'came to.' 'What did you say your name was ?' 
I asked him. And when he said 'Spear — Adam 
Spear,' well, Beth, you should have seen Your 
Only True Love, here ! I guess for a minute 
Adam thought I was crazy. ' Liza Allen's beau ? ' 
I cried, almost pouncing on him. 'Well, I 
uster be,' he admitted, without any emotion that 



82 JUST FOLKS 

I could see. 'Are you — are you — married ? ' 
I hastened to ask. No, he wasn't, 'ner hadn't 
never been. Women folks is all right fer some, 
but if you kin git along without 'em they're 
more bother'n they're worth.' " 

Ferris looked down at Beth. He wanted to see 
her "sniff." 

"I hope you know a good bluff when you see 
one," she said briefly. 

"I do," he answered, "and what's more, I 
know better than to call it. I used to think it was 
smart to call a fellow's bluff — I know better now." 

Beth smiled appreciatively up at him. "And 
so ?" she said. 

"And so I told him about Liza, and about 
Joe's death, and — " 

"When's he coming ?" 

"Well, I think that with a little urging — to 
encourage the bluff — he would have come to- 
night. But I thought I'd better wait and ask you 
what your guess about Liza is." 

"Could you get him to-morrow ?" Beth asked 
quickly. 

"Is that your guess ?" 

Beth was quiet for a moment, then answered 
with a nod. "If you can call it a guess," she 
said presently, and her tone was very soft, her 
manner full of self-searching thoughtfulness. 
"Liza's a woman, and it's hardly guessing — with 
women." 



JUST FOLKS 83 

There was a wistful light in Ferris's eyes. 
"Then the men who fail of success don't fail of 
everything, do they ? " 

Beth shook her head. 

"It's a world of compensations, isn't it?" 
said Ferris, looking up at the friendly stars. 
"And everything's in the point of view." 



Having found Adam, Hart Ferris felt that all 
there remained to be done was to help plan the 
details of "a nice little wedding." 

But Beth eyed him in surprise that one who 
had been under her teaching so long should still 
know so little. "Wedding?" she said, "why, 
they aren't even engaged !" 

"But you said you were sure that Liza would 
want him," Ferris urged. 

"I know I did ! I know she does — but you 
don't suppose she'll let him find it out right away, 
do you ?" 

It was Ferris's turn to look amazed. "Right 
away ?" he echoed uncomprehendingly. "Why, 
they were engaged 'way back in sixty-something- 
or-other !" 

"An engagement is outlawed after fourteen 
years," observed Beth, promptly. 

"Well," sighed Ferris, "I hope they don't 
want to wait around for forty years more before 
they get married." 

"I don't think they will," Beth assured him, 
"but you must give them time to court. Liza's a 
woman, and I don't believe women change very 

8 4 



JUST FOLKS 85 

much between seventeen and seventy. Liza 
makes wrappers for the Ghettoites, at fifty cents 
'fer the makin',' but she's a coquette to the core 
for all of that and her white hair, and Adam'll 
have to 'set up to' her, unless I'm much mis- 
taken." 

"I thought she'd be crazy to get him back — 
now that Joe's funeral's paid for." 

" So she will be — but she won't let him find 
it out too soon to spoil the interest. Of course 
she'll marry him, and support him, and give him 
the last drop of her poor old heart's blood, if he 
needs or wants it. But she'll make him 'walk 
chalk,' first." 

"Oh!" said Ferris — convinced, but not en- 
lightened. 

"A woman's got to have her way some time — 
or think she's having it," Beth observed sagely, 
"and, as Liza herself would say, 'Them as has 
it before, ain't half so likely to be standin' 
out fer it afterwards.'" 

She was right. As old Adam Spear had 
bluffed to Ferris about "women folks bein' all 
right fer some ; but if you kin git along without 
'em, they're more bother'n they're worth," 
so Liza bluffed to Beth when Beth told her. 

"I ain't surprised he never married," was 
Liza's first remark after Beth's story had come 
tumbling excitedly out, "he was awful cut up 
'bout me — an' then ! wouldn't nobody but an 



86 JUST FOLKS 

awful stiddy woman ever have tackled Adam 
Spear — an' he wa'n't never one to keer much 
about mere stiddiness, less'n it had some ginger 
'long with it — which most stiddy women lacks 
poor things !" It was evident from Liza's man- 
ner that while she might plead guilty to some 
"stiddiness," it was the ginger that was her pride. 

"I told him," ventured Ferris, almost persuaded 
by Liza's magnificent nonchalance that she 
didnH really care, "that I thought you'd be — 
willing for him to — to call." 

Liza bit off a thread and made a new knot on 
the end of it. "Oh, I don' mind — if he's set 
on it" she said. 

Accordingly, it then became Ferris's delicate 
task to see Adam Spear and appeal to his chiv- 
alry with an account of Liza's intense eagerness 
to see her old beau again. 

"Well," Adam agreed at last, yielding hand- 
somely, "when you put it that way, does seem's 
if I'd kind of ought to go." 

So he went. Ferris took him, one evening. 
He and Beth had planned how they might slip 
away and leave the old folks alone to get over their 
explanations and to commence their courting, 
but Liza forestalled Beth's amiable intention 
by saying: "Now, I don' want no foolishness ! 
You two jest set right here an' act 's if nothin' 
had happened. I don't intend to have Adam 
Spear a-palaverin' 'round me an' makin' out 



JUST FOLKS 87 

how I've blasted his life, an' the like o' that. 
Course I'm sorry fer him fer bein' sich a fool's he 
was — but 'tain't goin' to help matters now to 
tell him of it!" 

And Adam had similarly checked Ferris's plan. 
"I hope she ain't turned out to be one o' these 
here hystericky women," he murmured as they 
neared Maxwell Street; "I alius did hate fer a 
woman to take on over me. Don't you go off an' 
leave me, young fella — an' if she begins to git 
weepy, or to hold it agin me that I didn't marry 
her, I tell you, I won't stay!" Thus adjured, 
Beth and Ferris chaperoned the meeting. 

About six o'clock on the appointed evening, 
Beth came in from her round of visiting juvenile 
delinquents and dependents, and found Liza 
kneeling on the floor before the kitchen table, 
awkwardly wielding the flat-iron over her weird- 
looking " horns" of front hair; Liza's method of 
crimping was to wet her hair, wind it on large 
steel pins, and iron it dry — a troublesome 
method to which she did not resort except 
for especial occasions. And Liza did not like to 
admit that this was a special occasion. She 
scrambled to her feet guiltily and confronted 
Beth defiantly. "I alius have to crimp my hair 
when I've washed my head," she began at once, 
as if Beth had questioned her; "otherwise I'm 
a sight to behold." Beth wondered what excuse 
Liza would offer for wearing her good dress 



88 JUST FOLKS 

on a Wednesday evening — for of course she'd 
wear it, and of course she wouldn't admit why. 
But the excuse was forthcoming. "Declare to 
goodness," cried Liza, raising her right arm and 
disclosing a gaping worn place which Beth had 
been noting since Monday morning, "if this 
wrapper ain't a-droppin' off me ! I'll set right 
down, now, an' mend it while I think of it." 
And "set" she did — but she put on her good 
dress before "settin'," although it was a "stuff" 
dress, and the night was warm. She wore her 
"broach," too, and her apron with the crochet 
edge. And when she had gone thus far, she 
seemed to think candor the best policy; for 
"I guess Adam Spear'll see that a woman with 
sperrit ain't got to be hitched to no man, to git 
along in this world !" she remarked. 

For the occasion, too, all sewing was put by, 
and Liza was reading The News, like a lady of 
elegant leisure, when Adam was ushered in. 

"Well, I declare — Adam Spear !" she greeted 
him, laying down her paper, taking off her 
"specs," and putting on a casualness which 
would have deceived the astutest man. 

"Howdy, Liza," Adam answered awkwardly. 

"Evenin', Mr. Ferris," said Liza, looking past 
Adam as if he were the merest incident and mo- 
mentary interest in him had ceased. "Won't 
ye both set?" she asked formally. Adam 
took the farthest chair. 



JUST FOLKS 89 

"I was jest," observed Liza, taking up the 
paper she had laid down, "a-readin' 'bout some 
doin's they bin havin' to Gettysburg. You was 
in the war, wasn't you, Adam ? Was you to 
Gettysburg?" 

Adam gasped. "Why, sure I was !" he said 
presently, when he could ejaculate, "an' got 
wownded in the leg — an' you made me some 
night-shirts, soon's you heard I was in the hors- 
pital." 

"Why, so I did," said Liza, as if with an effort 
of memory, "though we was on diffrunt sides." 

"Well, the war's over now," observed Adam, 
cheerfully, " an' I guess you wa'n't never enough 
of a rebel to hurt nothin'." 

"I b'long to the Daughters o' the Bonny Blue 
Flag !" declared Liza, defiantly. 

"An' I b'long to the G.A.R.," said Adam, 
handling his coat lapel where he wore the bronze 
button of the Union's defenders; "but law ! if 
we was able to fergit our diffrunces in '65, seems 
like we might make out to put up with 'em in 
this year o' grace !" 

"Princ'ples," remarked Liza, severely, "ain't 
strong in the young as they be when you've 
l'arned how much they stan' fer." 

Ferris and Beth looked at each other a little 
apprehensively. Liza's tone was so sharp that, 
for a moment, they could hardly realize she was 
only fabricating this barrier in the course of true 



9 o JUST FOLKS 

love, to "make things interestin'," as she would 
have said. 

"How Cupid does love hurdles" Ferris re- 
marked thoughtfully to Beth when he had a 
chance to talk it over with her. " If he can't 
find a ready-made Capulet-Montague feud, he'll 
send a poor old doddeky pair of victims like this 
harking back to the Civil War for a difference — 
so they can have the joy of bridging it !" 

"I hear," said Mary Casey, " you've a weddin' 
comin' off at your house." 

"We have," answered Beth; "isn't it inter- 
esting ?" 

Mary looked dubious. "Well, I dunno," 
she said. " Seems t' me if a woman have man- 
aged t' git along widout a man to her time o' 
life, she might make out alone to the ind. Min is 
a tur'ble lot o' trouble t' break in — an' I don' see 
but what her ole fella's like to die before she gits 
him so's she kin stan' his ways — leavin' her wid 
all her trouble fer nothin'. Beats all — what a 
woman'll undertake ! " 

Mary had come over to the Juvenile Court to 
wait for Beth and "walk a piece" with her. 
She had something to say that she didn't care 
to say before her children — who were always 
under foot when Beth was there — nor yet 
before Liza Allen — who was always "mixin' in" 



JUST FOLKS 91 

when Mary went to her house to see Beth. So 
they had to have recourse to the streets — just as 
the people of Maxwell and Henry Streets must 
nearly always do when they wish privacy. 

"Sure," Mary hastened to explain, after her 
seemingly pessimistic remark about "min" and 
marriage, "I belave 'tis in the nature of ivry 
woman t' want a man t' try her hand on. All of 
us belaves oursilves born min-tamers — an' none 
of us iver lose the notion, though some of us 
kapes tryin' diffrunt min, lookin' fer success 
wid wan out o' the lot, an' some kapes tryin' the 
same man over an' over — like me. But I s'pose 
it ain't in the nature of anny woman t' be willin' 
t' die widout seein' what she kin do t' rayduce 
wan man to a state of daycincy." 

This seemed to bring Mary in due course to 
the object of her visit. " 'Tis about Ang'la Ann," 
she said — and turned to Beth, who was begin- 
ning to know Mary well enough not to be sur- 
prised at the quickness with which the glint of 
shrewd humor had died out of her face and been 
succeeded by a look of deep anxiousness. 

"What about her?" 

"Well — she 've got a rid skirt — " 

"A red skirt?" 

" She 've bin crazy fer wan — mebbe ye didn' 
know — an' I couldn' give 'er no money t' git 
wan, 'count of her pa not workin'. An' she 
was tur'ble down-hearted 'bout it. Night before 



92 JUST FOLKS 

last, she'd a bundle wid 'er whin she come home, 
an' tried t' snake it in widout me seein' it. 
' What's that ?' I sez. An', 'Oh, nothin' !' she 
sez. I didn't make no effort t' urge 'er, but 
yistiddy, whin she was gon' t' work, I looked an' 
foun' it under her mattrass — an' it was a new 
rid skirt. 'Wheer did ye git that ?' I asked 'er, 
last avenin' — an' first she wouldn' tell me. 
Then she said one o' the fellas t' wheer she work 
give it to her — an' she kind o' let out that he's 
wan that Stan's up to her consid'rable." 

Mary paused and looked at Beth, as if to see 
how shocked she was. But Beth, who was 
thinking hard, said nothing for a moment, and 
Mary plunged on. 

"Ain't it tur'ble ?" she cried. "I toP Ang'la 
she must take it right back — but she wouldn'. 
'He's the only wan that keer enough about me 
to keer if I'm shabby er daycint !' she sez. 'I 
can't niver go no place ner have no fun,' she sez, 
'because I ain't got nothin' fit t' wear. He's 
sorry for me — an' he give me the skirt — an' 
I ain't goin' t' take it back, I don' keer what you 
say ! ' I couldn' do nothin' wid her, Miss Tully — 
an' I'm that onaisy 'bout her I'm most out o' 
me min'." 

"I know," said Beth, nodding her head briskly. 
"She can't have it, of course. I'll see if I can't 
make her understand." 

"Will ye, now?" cried Mary, gratefully. 



JUST FOLKS 93 

" Poor little t'ing ! She 've no idare how I do hate 
to have her give it up — ner what harm he may- 
mane in givin' it. Ain't it awful, Miss Tully, 
how the young has to be always unbelavein' of 
the love that do keer most fer theer good, an' 
riddy t' belave in anny wan that'll spake fer 
theer plisure ?" 

That night Beth went over to see Angela Ann 
and to take her out for a walk. Angela Ann was 
sixteen, and pretty. She was slight and full of 
grace. Her hands and feet were small and 
shapely. Her big Irish-blue eyes were fringed 
with curling lashes of extraordinary length. 
Her skin was milk-white (when it was clean) and 
satin-soft ; all the Casey children had exquisite 
skin. And she had dimples in her cheeks, like 
her pa's. Her hair was thick and of a rich chest- 
nut color, and she took pretty good care of it, 
considering her pitifully limited facilities. Angela 
Ann liked to "be nice"; she liked to go to the 
baths on Fourteenth Street, and she did, when 
she could spare the nickel. She never looked 
particularly pretty, because she was ungroomed 
and grotesquely dressed ; but when you got to 
know her, you were often conscious, as you looked 
at her, of figuring what a remarkably pretty 
girl she would be with half a chance. She had 
figured it, too, of course. 

But poor Angela had gone to work when she 
was twelve, as cash-girl. After a brief appren- 



94 JUST FOLKS 

ticeship at that, she became a bundle wrapper. 
When she was fourteen, she was pasting labels 
on a patent medicine. Soon thereafter she had 
transferred her operations to a cheap mail order 
concern that advertised gold rings for thirty- 
nine cents. Presently she was back again at 
bundle wrapping. She had no ability, no pros- 
pects — she drifted from job to job, squeezing in, 
unchallenged, at rush seasons and being re- 
morselessly let off the moment it became pos- 
sible to weed the unfit from the fit. And all 
this time she brought her pay envelopes home 
untouched, receiving back from her mother what 
could be spared — for carfare in bad weather ; 
for an occasional five cents to add a bakery deli- 
cacy to the bread and meat she carried from home 
for lunch ; and for a pair of cheap shoes when the 
ragged old ones promised a spell of sickness un- 
less they were replaced. If she achieved a ribbon 
for her hair or her neck, a ten-cent string of blue 
beads when all the girls were wearing them, or a 
bunch of roses for the hat she bought out of a 
sidewalk bin on Halsted Street, it was at the 
price of carfare and lunch money. She had 
never bought a dress, nor even a shirt-waist ; her 
clothing always came through some chance 
charity and seldom or never bore any relation to 
her desires. Did she long for a tan jacket ? 
The coat that eventually came her way was sure 
to be a black ulster. Did she crave a red skirt ? 



JUST FOLKS 95 

The only skirt that her more prosperous aunt 
Maggie could afford to give away was bound to 
be green or purple. Did she dream of a "peeka- 
boo" waist ? Alas ! peekaboos never seemed to 
get into the cast-off bundles, and she had to 
summon what grace she could to wear a gray 
flannel or a brown madras, with long sleeves. 
Ordinarily, Angela Ann bore these outrageous 
fortunes with a heroism no less great than that 
which has got some folks a statue in the public 
parks. But the most heroic undoubtedly have 
"off times," seasons of strong distaste for the 
hero's job ; and Angela Ann, it seemed, had 
come to one of these intervals of revolt. Beth 
wondered, as she went along teeming, sweltering 
Henry Street toward the flight of steep, creaking 
steps leading down to the Caseys' basement, how 
she could summon stern morality enough to lec- 
ture Angela on the hideousness of taking a red 
skirt "off'n a fella" — yet it must be done, of 
course ! And she must do it. 

They went over to Halsted Street — she and 
Angela — and walked slowly up to Madison on 
the east side of the street where, for some occult 
reason, the five-cent theatre does not flourish. 
From this comparatively sedate side, they looked 
over to the gaudy other side where penny arcades 
and saloons with free vaudeville, and nickelo- 
deons, and gaudy Greek candy parlors, vie with 
the groggeries and the pawnshops in number. 



96 JUST FOLKS 

As they walked, Angela looked across, and Beth 
talked — trying to point out the short and easy 
step from a good time to a very, very bad 
time, indeed. 

Angela listened for a while, then began to pour 
out her grievances. It was all very well to talk, 
but what was a girl to do ? She couldn't " have 
nobody to home — to set in the kitchen wid the 
whole fam'ly. An' they [meaning her pa and 
ma] won' l'ave me go no place — an' if they 
would, I couldn' go, not haven' a daycint rag to 
wear. Pa's awful pertickler — about other folks. 
He said he didn' care if lots o' girls I know do go 
to dance halls — theer no place fer a daughter o' 
his, though they might do fer the girls of thim 
immygrints wid no understandin' o' what's 
what. But min like Pa that's seen the world, 
theer too wise t' l'ave theer girls go by no 
dances." He even frowned on her going — as 
she sometimes did, with her Aunt Maggie and 
Uncle Tim "of a Sat'dy night" — to the By-Joe 
(Bijou) to see "Nellie the Beautiful Cloak- 
Model," or "On the Stroke of Twelve," or "The 
White Queen of Chinatown." But Mary had 
overruled him there, it seemed, reassured by 
Angela's answer to her anxious query if the By- 
Joe was a "rayspictable" place: "Why, sure, 
Ma, it's a rayspictable place!" Angela had 
hastened to exclaim ; " 'tis a gran' theayter, an' 
swell people goes there. Why, it say on the wall, 



JUST FOLKS 97 

'No shpittin' ner shwearin' allowed'!" And, 
on the same conviction that "girls do be after 
nadein' a little plisure now an' thin — ye can't 
kape thim in yer pocket," Mary had secretly 
raised Pa's ban against amusement parks — on 
Angela's solemn promise "not to touch no beer, 
ner to take up wid anny man yer not properly 
introjooced to," and, above all, to "kape no 
comp'ny wid thim that wint to Chinee places." 

But Angela couldn't afford to go to amusement 
parks on her own treat, and it was hard to "get 
ast by a fella " when you had no place to entertain 
a fellow and no clothes, and when everybody 
was " always throwin' it into you not to go wid no 
fella ner to take nothin' off'n thim." There was 
Gertie O'Malley now — the belle of Henry 
Street. Gertie's pa was a policeman, and Gertie 
had a "parlie" and a piano and a silk dress and a 
whole court of Nineteenth Ward beaus, attracted 
partly by Gertie's loudly assertive charms and 
partly by the expediency of standing in with 
Gertie's pa. Angela felt very wroth with her sire. 
Not every man, she knew, can be a policeman ; 
but any man as smart as Pa Casey had a right 
to be a good deal "more of a pervider ner what 
he was !" 

Beth granted all this ; she sympathized ; she 
inveighed against Pa and conditions ; she cajoled ; 
she painted the rewards of virtue in glowing colors 
and told herself that though she believed in 



98 JUST FOLKS 

these rewards, it was asking too much of Angela to 
believe in them too. For in Angela's sphere of 
life — as in some others — it takes a pentrating 
spiritual vision indeed to see beyond the ap- 
parent success of vice and the apparent failure of 
integrity. 

"I know, Angela," Beth said, "I know it's hard, 
but what can you do ? For you must be good 
— mustn't you ? You must be good !" 

"Yes'm, I s'pose so," Angela admitted. 

"Well, then, you can't do it unless you're 
careful — always on the lookout, as I tell you. 
For I don't suppose any girl ever went wrong 
because she decided to go to the devil ; she gets 
there before she realizes — that's it ! No supper 
with the foreman when you work late, remember ; 
foremen don't spend supper money on girls out 
of pure benevolence. No theatre tickets from 
the boss ; no candy — no red skirts — no — no 
anything!" It was an ordeal to honest little 
Beth — demanding this heroically difficult virtue 
of a starveling like Angela Ann ; but she knew 
she must persevere in it. 

"You take back the red skirt, Angela," she 
said, finally, "and tell the young man your ma 
never lets you take presents. And I'll get you a 
nicer one, somehow — and maybe a nice shirt- 
waist, too." 

Thus bribed, Angela Ann took back the skirt. 
But Beth was dubious if the victory were one 



JUST FOLKS 99 

of morals or of " a shirt-waist to boot." When she 
came to think of it, though, she could not see 
that many people's morals can be easily divorced 
from expediency. 

The return of the red skirt precipitated a small 
tragedy. "He" told Angela she was a fool, 
and he passed the joke around the shop, so 
that Angela went to Beth in a passion of tears, 
declaring she would never go back there again ; 
that she loved him dearly and was sure she 
would never meet another fellow half so nice; 
and that she wished she "was dead, anyhow." 

Beth promised to get her another job and 
wisely refrained from urging it upon her that "he" 
was well lost. 

"When we get your new skirt and waist, Mr. 
Ferris and I will take you out to Riverview," she 
promised, "and try to give you a good time." 

"Goin' wid another girl an' her beau, ain't the 
same's going wid yer own," sobbed Angela. 

No, it wasn't; Beth knew. "But a girl like 
you won't be long without a beau, Angela dear. 
If you keep sweet and good, some fine young 
man'll come along and make you a good hus- 
band—" 

"Oh," wailed Angela, "that's what Ma's 
always sayin' — an' you — an' it's in the plays an 
the story-books an' the Advice to the Lovelorn ; 
but it ain't so ! The girls that's free an' aisy 
wid the min gits the most beaus — an' thim 



ioo JUST FOLKS 

that tries to do right gits laughed at, an' called 
fools." 

Again Beth was silenced, unable to deny the 
seeming truth of this ; unable to ask Angela's 
childish eyes to see past all the surface injustice of 
the world's way of apportionment, to the real 
status of things, where it becomes apparent that 
each of us get, somehow, just about what we 
have earned. 

"I don't know why any one should expect 
Angela to see that deep — to have a hope that 
her experience won't justify," Beth told her- 
self passionately; "but oh! she must be made 
to see it, in some way, or to take it on faith. She 
must ! She must !" 

The way Beth appealed to them about the 
red skirt and the peekaboo waist made several 
persons only too glad to help out ; and the way 
she urged the vital necessity of a new job, and an 
attractive new job at that, made one of her 
staunch supporters glad to give it to her. 

"What can your girl Jo?" the staunch sup- 
porter asked, poising his pen above an order blank 
which, signed by him, would commend Angela 
to the foreman of his factory for immediate 
employment. 

"Do?" echoed Beth, excitedly. "Do? I 
don't believe she can do anything ! But she 
needs the job /•" 

"You're an excellent economist, Miss Tully," 



JUST FOLKS 101 

said the staunch supporter, smiling, as he handed 
her the order for Angela's 3#&'} i :' I'M ' 

"I'm a better economist than he knows, I 
guess," Beth thought, as she hurried to Henry 
Street with his order. "I don't say it's ideal 
economy giving Angela a job not because she can 
fill it but because she needs it — but I guess it's 
at least as good economy as letting her go where 
she may go if she doesn't get it — and prosecuting 
her after she goes — and prosecuting others be- 
cause of what she's dragged them to — and bury- 
ing her, while she's yet young, in the Potter's 
Field ! I guess the difference between the way 
Angela does the job and the way some other 
girl might have done it, won't be as great as the 
difference it might make to Angela if she didn't 
get the job !" 

" I suppose my allotment will be to get Angela 
a new beau!" laughed Ferris, when Beth re- 
counted to him her other successes. 

"If you only could!" Beth sighed. "But I 
suppose that's something that, in America, every 
girl has to do for herself. What you can do, 
though, is to take Angela and me out to River- 
view, some night this week, and help me give her 
one good time." 

Ferris smiled, but agreed. Angela, in all the 
splendor of her new red skirt and her peekaboo 
waist, was called for with all ceremony. (Beth 
only wished she knew some one "with an auto- 



102 JUST FOLKS 

mobile and " a sense of humor — if they ever 
go together !"-- v/bc might have loved the 
human comedy well enough to take a hand in it 
for this evening. But she didn't.) And even 
Pa-the-particular speeded their going and wished 
them, handsomely, a "gran' time." 

But alas ! and alas ! for the best-laid plans. 
While they stood — Hart Ferris and Beth and 
Angela Ann — watching the crowds on the danc- 
ing floor, Angela gave a queer little cry, half 
rage, half pain, and dashed away as if in quest 
of a place to hide among the trees. 

"Why, Angela, what's the matter ?" implored 
Beth when she had overtaken the girl. 

For a few moments, Angela was so shaken with 
sobs that she could not reply. Then: "It's 
him!" she wailed; "him an' Nellie McGuire 
wid the rid skirt on!" 

Nellie McGuire worked in the same shop, it 
seemed, and it had evidently not been "agin her 
princ'ples" to accept a red skirt "ofPn a fella," 
nor against her pride to take one that she knew 
had been returned by another girl. 

Hart Ferris, when the tragedy was explained 
to him, had the usual masculine perspicacity 
about affairs of the feminine heart. 

"Maybe it wasn't the same skirt," he observed, 
consolingly. 

And the look Angela gave him was so withering 
that, in spite of herself, Beth laughed. 



JUST FOLKS 103 

Ferris's next masculine inspiration was whis- 
pered to Beth. "Let's take her into one of these 
funny side-shows and divert her," he suggested. 

Beth had a momentary temptation to look 
withering herself — but she overcame it. She 
was growing used to the uncomprehendingness 
of masculinity, and beginning to have even a sort 
of tenderness for it in her masculine, as she 
would have had for any other hard-and-fast limi- 
tation Nature had put on him. 

"Girls in Angela's mood donH divert" she 
said softly ; and there was something in her tone 
that impressed Ferris that she knew. 

So they went home, a subdued little party — 
home to the top of the creaking stairs on Henry 
Street, where Beth and Ferris stood for a minute 
after Angela had disappeared into the Stygian 
blackness shrouding the bottom of the flight. 

"It's tragedy, all right," said Beth, soberly, 
when she and Ferris turned away. "She's 
young, and we know she'll get over it — but she 
doesn't know she will, and it's as tragic to her as 
if it were the end of everything." 

"Oh, she couldn't care so very much for the 
fellow — she hardly knew him," Ferris philoso- 
phized ; " and she's got the red skirt." 

If Ferris could have seen Beth's face in the 
darkness of Henry Street, he would have been 
sorely puzzled by the expression on it. 



VI 



Beth had little leisure and almost as little in- 
clination for life outside the Ghetto. The people 
around her were so absorbingly interesting that 
she found the more superficial contact with 
people "across the border" savorless and unsatis- 
fying. They liked to hear her talk about her 
life and her work and her new friends — those 
outsiders — but she couldn't talk to them as 
she could to Hart Ferris. The Casey s, the 
Rubovitzes, Liza, Adam, Hannah Wexsmith, the 
Gooches — these were but names to those who 
listened ; only to Hart were they more or less 
familiar personalities that could be discussed, 
not merely talked about. And Beth's mind and 
heart were so full of them that she wanted to dis- 
cuss them as personalities, not just to tell about 
them to persons whose chief interest was in their 
poverty, and whose mental attitude seemed to be 
that poverty makes of human creatures a world 
apart. So Hart Ferris was daily entrenching 
himself deeper and deeper, not only in the affec- 
tions of little Beth, but in that "thou and thou 
only" place in her life and heart which he so 
earnestly desired to fill. It was such a busy life, 

104 



JUST FOLKS 105 

such a wide-reaching heart, that it wasn't easy 
to acquire over it complete sovereignty; it 
wasn't like the heart of a girl with nothing to 
think of but love and her lover. But Ferris was 
beginning to see how much more glorious the 
conquest of it was. For, as he advanced step by 
step into Beth's interests (somehow, she seemed 
to have jumped into the very heart of his interests 
all at once, in her wonderful, woman's way) he 
could feel the solid ground of comradeship 
beneath his feet. He was making himself ten- 
derly necessary to her ; day by day he was enter- 
ing further into her life's ramifications ; soon, 
he hoped, there would not be a byway, ever so 
small, of her ardent interest, which he had not 
shared with her. It was a delicious courtship, 
and Ferris felt sorry indeed for the men who had 
nothing to court in a girl but her fancy for the 
way they looked or acted or earned money. 

Beth wasn't thinking much, consciously, about 
the processes of her love affair. Only she was 
finding herself more and more eager to talk 
things over with Hart, more and more confident 
of the new understanding that would come to 
her in the talking over, and more and more 
satisfied with his companionship and none other. 

They went to the theatre quite frequently — 
sometimes to a down-town theatre to see a good 
or fairly good play well or fairly well acted, and 
sometimes to the By- Joe (Bijou) or the Academy 



106 JUST FOLKS 

or other West Side theatre to study what West 
Side folks like. Ferris was able, through his news- 
paper connection, to get passes, except in the 
cases of plays doing excellent business, and they 
were able to afford themselves a great deal of 
pleasure this way. On hot nights, Beth liked 
to go to the amusement parks, partly for what she 
saw that helped her to understand phases of her 
work, and partly for the sheer delight she had 
in the crowds, the lights, the music, the dancing, 
the diversions. The child-heart in her was inex- 
tinguishable, and it kept her soul untainted 
by conditions which some call the sordid and the 
seamy conditions of life. Beth loved to dance, and 
the smooth, shining floors of the dancing pavilions 
never failed to tempt her, no matter how many 
weary miles her small feet had trudged in the 
day's work. A dance was a mental transforma- 
tion to her. The puckers came out of her 
mind, she said, and left nothing but the joy of 
rhythmical motion. After a good dance with 
Hart, she could feel herself freed of fret, refreshed, 
ready to begin all over again. And he loved 
the flushed cheeks and bright eyes of her, the 
happy, bubbling, care-free laugh, and the fairy- 
light motion of the slender little thing in his 
arms. Those were happy midsummer nights ; 
no two young lovers in the city had happier. 
And coming home, under the friendly stars, was 
sweeter still. Ferris was teaching Beth to know 



JUST FOLKS 107 

the stars, and she was getting much from them 
that helped her in the Ghetto. 

So Beth was very happy, and her happiness 
was one of the things that made her presence 
precious in the Nineteenth Ward. 

It was not so hard for her to realize that there 
might be an important work for her to do beyond 
the Ghetto as it was for her to want to do it. 
She was familiar with the old, old discussion of 
what Hull House has accomplished, and with its 
time-honored ending: "Well, aside from what 
Hull House has done for the Nineteenth Ward, 
just see what it has done for the Lake Shore 
Drive !" She knew the principle of great Jane 
Addams whom little Beth revered so deeply, the 
thing that had brought her to what people are 
pleased to call "the slums"; and it was not, 
primarily, so much to teach as to learn. If Jane 
Addams had been able to communicate the beauty 
of her spirit to more of her disciples, there could 
never have been any discussion of what Hull 
House was worth to the Nineteenth Ward. 
But if she had been able so to do, she would not 
have been repeating the history of great spirits 
who moved greatly toward the world's uplift. 
If the doubt of her success had not assailed her 
from the outside and if, much more, it had not also 
assailed her from within, she would have been 
only imperfectly akin to others of her great kind. 
It was what she realized of some of Hull House's 



108 JUST FOLKS 

apparent failures, what she felt, intuitively, 
that Miss Addams must feel, that awoke Beth, 
finally, to what she called " the claims of the 
Lake Shore Drive." For if one remembered 
why Miss Addams had come to South Halsted 
Street, one could never question her success. 
She had come to learn and to attract others 
to learn. And the more Beth came to know of the 
Nineteenth Ward, the more reason she had to 
doubt if any possible benefit to the Nineteenth 
Ward could be so great as the benefit of acquaint- 
ance with the Nineteenth Ward to dwellers on 
the Lake Shore Drive. 

That was how she came, finally, to fear that 
she was selfish about her new interests ; that she 
ought, no doubt, to share her wealth with the 
"poor rich." Of actually rich persons she knew 
none at all ; but of those rich in leisure and poor 
in interest she knew as many as most of us are 
obliged to know. And some of these persons 
envied her (or thought they did !) her interest 
in the Ghetto. They "wanted to help" (of 
course they'd put it that way ! Beth thought 
impatiently) but "didn't know anybody to do 
anything for." The only help they knew how to 
give was material, but Beth often needed that. 
She soon found, however, that she had to take 
these would-be Samaritans on probation as she 
took the delinquent children of the Juvenile 
Court; to be exceedingly cautious how she 



JUST FOLKS 109 

allowed these sudden enthusiasts to come into 
personal relations with the objects of their chari- 
table zest. They did such queer things. And the 
Ghettoites, rightly, resented them. 

Beth had heard the Samaritans' stories about 
the poor who spent on tintypes and phonographs 
the money given them for food and overdue rent. 
But she knew, too, of the charity organizations 
that solicited "pound" donations and distributed 
the packages undiscriminatingly along any mean- 
looking street — Mary Casey, at a time of partic- 
ular hungriness and coldness, having been pre- 
sented, by a palpitating young person at the back 
door, with a pound of starch. 

They usually gave the wrong thing — those 
precious enthusiasts-of-a-moment — and they 
usually gave it in the wrong way. It was a great 
deal easier to keep the two worlds apart and do 
"the go-betweening" herself. But that wasn't 
helping the world that was probably in most need 
of help. 

One way these Samaritans crowded upon her 
was through Ferris. Following humbly in the 
beautiful example of Jacob Riis when that 
splendid spirit was doing not the least of his 
service to humanity through his department of 
police news on the New York Sun, Ferris was 
rapidly making a local name for himself by his 
written accounts of what he learned from Beth. 
And as readers began to know that these were 



no JUST FOLKS 

"really true," there came to be a clamoring of 
Samaritans with softened hearts and apparently, 
as Ferris said, with softened brains when it came 
to having a definite, practical, humanly-loving 
idea about helping a brother in distress. 

Yet they seemed so genuinely anxious to help, 
so sincere in their declarations that it was doing 
them a great kindness to let them know where 
they could give, that Beth often felt severe com- 
punctions at putting their generosity on such 
stern probation. But if she didn't, she was nearly 
always sorry. For the Samaritans, intoxicated by 
the unaccustomed wine of a little gratitude from 
fellow-creatures they had helped, usually pro- 
ceeded at once to demoralize those fellow- 
creatures in an insatiate desire to feel more of 
their gratitude, and more, and more, and more. 
Then, when they had used every time-honored 
method of blunting appreciation and deadening 
self-respect and taking the keen edge off desire — 
and had succeeded in their efforts — they always 
became particularly bitter iconoclasts and par- 
ticularly loud promulgators of the doctrine that 
"the poor are poor because that's all they deserve 
to be." 

So Beth had to be careful. Few persons under- 
stood the poor. Every one seemed to think that 
poverty in some mysterious way alters our com- 
mon human nature, instead of intensifying it as it 
really does. Every one wanted to have an over- 



JUST FOLKS in 

flowing, maudlin pity for the poor; every one 
wanted to "show them how to do"; every one 
felt superior to them ; no one ever stood in awe 
of their patience, their faith, their fortitude. 

But Beth herself was learning deeply of the 
poor, and one thing they taught her was often 
manifest: she never "gave up," any more. In 
any problem involving human nature, she was 
always ready to "try again." So she was grow- 
ing patient with her Samaritan probationers as 
she had learned to be with her delinquent chil- 
dren ; for she could see that the Samaritans 
needed her patience just as much — sometimes 
a good deal more. She didn't mind for herself 
the mistakes the Samaritans made, but she 
minded them exceedingly for the victims. 

"I wonder," she mused one night in talking to 
Ferris, "if God means poor people to bear so 
much — the brunt of poverty and the burden of 
being practice-ground for the awkward Samari- 
tanism of the rich ?" 

Ferris never felt half as confident of God's 
probable purposes as Beth herself, so he did not 
venture to guess. 

It was thus matters stood when Ferris wrote for 
his paper a little story of Angela Ann and the red 
skirt. 

One of the letters that came to him (all of 
which he duly, as was his wont, turned over to 
Beth) was from a woman who said quite frankly 



ii2 JUST FOLKS 

that she was suffering from melancholia and 
that some one had advised, for her cure, an in- 
terest in the poor. 

"I like her letter," said Beth when she had 
read it, "because she has a glimmering of the 
right idea ; she feels her need and she thinks she 
may get something over here. What I'm tired of 
is the attitude of superiority which never imagines 
there can be anything here for it to do except 
to give. This is one place where 'them that 
comes to git, go away richer than them that 
comes to give.'" 

So, after a few communications by mail, Beth 
consented to go and see the woman who wanted 
help. She smiled as she went, enjoying this re- 
versal of the usual order. It was a time-honored 
custom to call on the suppliant poor to see if 
they were worthy to receive charity. It was a 
little extraordinary to call on the suppliant rich 
to see if they were worthy to give charity. The 
impertinence and injustice of presuming to decide 
in either case made Beth hotly ashamed, many 
and many a time. She was ashamed to- 
day. Who was she, to decide on a woman's 
need ? But when she thought of what might 
happen if she gave the Caseys' address to a 
woman without trying to find out what the 
woman's ideas and puposes were, and leaving 
the results to God, " it didn't seem fair to 
God," she said. 



JUST FOLKS 113 

The name of the lady who wanted to get help 
through helping was Mrs. Eleanor Brent, and she 
lived just off the Lake Shore Drive on one of the 
handsome residence streets that run west from 
the Drive. The house in which she lived was 
elegant, but in no sense palatial. Beth was con- 
scious of being glad "it was no worse" (by which 
she meant no grander) and then, before she had 
time to think much further, the door was opened 
and she was ushered in. 

As she sat waiting in the drawing-room, her 
misgivings grew. The probable effect of this on 
Angela Ann, if she should ever be brought here, 
was something Beth dared not contemplate. And 
then, the sudden transition of some one accus- 
tomed to this place, to "the depths of Henry 
Street," was an idea sufficiently startling. The 
house was one of those that impress a sensitive 
stranger as being altars of worship for the god of 
Immaculate Cleanliness ; everything in it was of 
such exquisite polish and purity and specklessness, 
that Beth felt a pang of pity for the woman who 
had the dirt and the smells and the disorder of the 
Ghetto to endure before she could come into the 
companionship she sought. 

At this point in her reveries, Mrs. Brent came ; 
Beth was startled by her youth and by her beauty, 
but startled only momentarily because she had, 
somehow, expected something quite different. 
In a moment, though, she had forgotten her sur- 



ii 4 JUST FOLKS 

prise in her interest. Within five minutes she 
and Mrs. Brent were confessing, each to the other, 
their surprise. 

"I thought you'd be a — severe, spinsterly, 
middle-aged person, all angles — physically and 
conversationally — and that you'd wear a — a 
kind of a uniform; be something like a police- 
man in petticoats," laughed Eleanor Brent. 
Beth had made her laugh almost instantly the 
first greetings were over. 

"And I," Beth admitted, "thought you'd be — 
well, I don't know just what I thought you would 
be like. But I didn't think you'd be like you 
are!" 

Mrs. Brent led Beth on to tell of her work, and 
she listened with an eager appreciation that made 
Beth bring out all her best for this new friend. 
(There was no doubt that they were to be 
friends.) 

"You are — please let me be quite frank! 
— you are the most wonderful thing that has 
happened to me in a long time," said Eleanor 
Brent, tears shining in her eyes. "And because 
I want to 'play fair,' to let you understand 
what little there is of me to know, as well as to 
enjoy knowing you, I'll tell you why I — why I 
must have a new interest in my life." 

She was an only child, she said, and had been 
brought up with, undoubtedly, too much care. 
She was educated abroad, and had had every- 



JUST FOLKS 115 

thing done for her that love and money and 
cultivated tastes can do for a girl. Much was 
expected of her and for her. "Then I married," 
she went on, "married when I was twenty-one. 
It was a mistake." 

The day, in late August, was oppressively hot. 
When Beth came into the drawing-room, the 
afternoon sun was shining brilliantly. While 
Eleanor Brent talked, a gray cloudiness that 
might mean rain overcast the sky. It came sud- 
denly. One moment the sunshine reflected daz- 
zlingly from the polished oaken floors ; the next 
moment the corners of the room were full of 
shadows and the open windows framed vistas of 
gray. 

" It was like that with me," said Eleanor Brent. 
"Just as quickly as that, almost, the shining was 
all gone out of my life. I try not to complain, 
to make others wretched. I try to think of all 
my mercies, and I'm grateful for them. But 
gratitude isn't an equivalent for the joy of living ! 
I want the shine back in my life. I want to ex- 
pect things to happen — lovely fairy things that 
color the days and make them truly different 
one from another. I must get out of this 
shadow I've been living in. I must have some- 
thing to take me out of myself. It isn't go- 
ing to be easy for me, nor for any one who is 
good enough to help me. But I don't care how 
hard it is for me, if only I can keep up the 



n6 JUST FOLKS 

struggle. I mustn't let go ; that's all ! I 
mustn't!" 

"You won't !" said little Beth. 

The next day, Eleanor Brent called at Maxwell 
Street. But before that, something quite won- 
derful had happened. 



VII 



It was six o'clock when Beth got down town. 
She had dinner with Ferris, in a modest little 
restaurant, and told him the story of her after- 
noon. 

"I never saw anything lovelier to look at," 
said Beth enthusiastically. "She's quite tall 
and exquisitely slender and she has a great wealth 
of that coppery red hair, and blue, blue eyes, and 
a skin like strawberries and cream." 

"Rather a startling person for Henry Street," 
commented Ferris, sceptically. 

"She £y," Beth admitted. "And it isn't going 
to be easy for her to get close to people. Her 
sadness is a kind they won't understand. And 
they'll see her beauty and feel her culture and 
suspect her 'well-to-do-ness,' and she'll seem too 
favored of fortune to be sympathetic with the 
poor and struggling. I'd give 'most anything 
to look like her — 'most anything but the joy 
of being little, insignificant me, so unnoticeable 
that I might have the fairy cloak of invisibility — 
I seem to get into folkses' lives so easily." 

"Fairies are never large," Hart reminded her; 
"and we don't call them insignificant because 

117 



n8 JUST FOLKS 

they're small. Personally, I think it's a misfor- 
tune for any woman to be over five feet high." 
(Beth was just five feet.) 

" Well, anyway," said Beth, smiling gratefully 
across at him, "I'm 'sure enough puzzled' to 
know what possible point of common interest 
there can be between Eleanor Brent and Angela 
Ann — except clothes, and that's dangerous. 
She was so moved by your story of the red skirt ! 
She wanted to give Angela Ann some clothes of 
hers. 'Not fancy things, of course!' she told 
me, as if establishing her common-sense thereby, 
'but a nice tailored suit and some pretty shirt- 
waists and a good hat.' I explained to her why 
these wouldn't do — how they'd actually brand 
poor Angela in the eyes of all her world, because 
every one would know she hadn't earned them and 
no one would believe an angel from the Lake 
Shore Drive had descended into Henry Street 
with them in a tailor's box. Also, I tried to make 
clear the probable effects of such elegance on 
Angela Ann in the desperate struggle she must 
wage to keep good. 'It's hard,' I told her, 
'terribly hard, to stand by and see poor little 
heroic Angela starving for pretty things and you 
with more than you need. You'd love to share 
with her, but you can do it only with infinite 
discretion ; or else you'll make things worse for 
her instead of better. It's like bringing up a 
child : selfish parents give a child too much ; 



JUST FOLKS 119 

unselfish parents try to make it strong to acquire 
for itself. You learn a lot of sympathy with 
God, ' I told her, 'when you try to act as the agent 
of His Providence for any of His children. You 
can see, in a feeble way, how hard things must be 
for Him who holds all blessings, and life, and 
death, in His hands.'" 

Ferris had something he must do at the office 
that evening, so after they had finished dining, 
he put Beth on a Blue Island Avenue car and 
went back to work. 

The heat was all but intolerable, and the 
Ghetto was a Gehenna. Force of habit, presum- 
ably, had driven the gasping thousands of Ghetto- 
ites into the stifling streets. Certainly, if one 
could have measured the oven heat of the blistered 
sidewalks with the oven heat of the tenement 
rooms, nothing to the advantage of the former 
would have been discoverable. Still, every one 
had made what effort he could to get out of doors. 
Those who could afford the money and muster the 
energy had gone to the parks — the free parks 
and the "pay" parks, at the latter of which one 
may have many hectic delights for a dime, 
especially if he be philosopher enough to reflect 
that the best of the side-shows is what the barker 
exhibits for a lure. (Alas, though ! how much 
it costs most of us to feel sure of that.) Others 
had gone on trolley rides — in Chicago one may 
ride prodigious distances for a nickel — and to the 



120 JUST FOLKS 

lake, two miles away, and to the public play- 
grounds. What the Ghetto might have been like 
if these more affluent and more energetic thou- 
sands had not betaken themselves beyond its 
confines, one dared not try to imagine. For, 
as it was, the streets were so thick with humanity 
that it seemed a breeze could not have blown 
through, had there been any breeze to blow. 
The hokey-pokey man, the vendors of water- 
melon slices, the dispensers of penny soda-water 
and pink pop, did thriving business ; and beer 
disappeared like streams in a thirsty desert — 
rivers of it ran, and slaked no thirst. 

Every door-step, every garbage box, every 
curbstone, held its quota of exhausted humanity. 
Men, women, and children slept everywhere, 
in the most hideously uncomfortable situations 
and postures. Nobody wore anything that could 
be left off — not in decency, for no one was bother- 
ing about decency, but in safety from the not- 
zealous nor much-in-evidence police. Flies 
swarmed about the big wooden receptacles for 
swill, and about the piles of decaying refuse which 
careless householders had thrown into the alleys. 
The odors of spoiled food filled the heavy air; 
for few Ghetto folk had ice, and the least thing 
left over from a meal spoiled before the next one. 

Beth tried not to think enviously of the room 
where Eleanor Brent would presently be sleeping. 
She was a sturdy little soldier — was Beth — 



JUST FOLKS 121 

and having undertaken a campaign in whose issue 
she believed, she tried not to complain if it were 
arduous or even perilous. 

Hannah Wexsmith was sitting in her usual 
post on the door-step, close under the sidewalk- 
display of Monahan, and with her was Mamie 
Gooch, holding her fretting baby and calling out, 
now and again, to her little Clarence, who was 
playing in the street. 

Beth stopped to talk with them a few minutes, 
then went on her way up the stairs. On her own 
landing she paused ; the Slinskys' kitchen door 
was open and Dinah Slinsky was sitting sewing, 
close under the light of the small glass lamp on the 
kitchen table. One end of the table, which was 
covered with brown oil-cloth, was set for a solitary 
meal. Jacob Slinsky, in his brush peddling, 
went far afield, out of the region of department 
stores and corner groceries. The trolleys took 
him, at low fare, into the humbler suburbs, and 
there he plied from door to door, sometimes 
successfully — as often, not. Frequently it was 
eight or nine o'clock when he climbed the stairs 
after his day's journeying, to eat a supper he was 
too tired to enjoy. To-night he was later than 
usual, and Dinah felt worried lest he had been 
overcome with the day's cruel heat. It was a 
constant sorrow to Dinah that her father had to 
work so hard ; for Dinah considered him an old 
man verging on decrepitude and helplessness, 



122 JUST FOLKS 

though he was only forty. Jacob himself felt 
old. He had married when very young, worked 
slavishly hard, and suffered many things. The 
years of his life were as if doubled by their 
exceeding weight, and it was a common topic 
for family wonder and worry what was to become 
of them all when Jacob should be too old to work. 

Dinah thought of this now as she peered again 
and again at the clock face in the dim corner. 
Suppose her father had been overcome by the 
heat, as so many were, each broiling day ! What 
could save them from the fate they dreaded 
almost worse than death — the necessity of 
having to ask charity ! She looked at her stubby, 
deformed hands, and the rebellious tears rose to 
her eyes and, brimming over, dripped on to the 
coarse garment she was fashioning. Dinah was a 
dwarf — not a midget, small, but shapely, but 
a squat dwarf. The lack of some necessary 
secretion in her thyroid glands had arrested the 
growth of her lower limbs, her forearms, her 
second and third finger joints. She stood scarcely 
higher than the kitchen table, and her broad 
little hands which she made so useful, seemed 
hardly more articulated than stumps. Dinah's 
affliction made her people exceeding sensitive, 
and in all Beth's comings and goings, hitherto, 
she had never seen into the home where the Slin- 
skys secluded themselves in their sorrow. 

To-night, she happened by the door just as 



JUST FOLKS 123 

Dinah's stubby hand was brushing the tears 
away. Beth hesitated — longing to comfort, 
afraid to venture for fear of being misunderstood. 
She could readily understand what the Slinskys 
had suffered, and how supersensitive they had 
inevitably grown. 

Dinah looked up and saw her, and hastened to 
explain away the tears. 

"My father is late," she said, in her peculiarly 
sweet voice and careful enunciation, "and I am 
alone, waiting for him. When he does not come, 
I think how if he should be prostrated with heat." 

" I know," said Beth, nodding understandingly ; 
" I've kept that kind of anxious watch so often 
myself. My dear father was in frail health for a 
long time before he — went away from us ; and 
I used to suffer agonies every minute he was 
overdue." 

Dinah's response to this was touching. The 
sadness of her situation was two-fold : she felt 
set apart by her affliction and she felt further sep- 
arated from those around her — even, in a meas- 
ure, from her very own — by her yearning for 
things far beyond the interests or the understand- 
ing of the Ghetto. She was so sure that no one 
could comprehend how she felt that she never 
tried to make herself understood. But the un- 
mistakable breeding in Beth's manner appealed 
to Dinah, and the lack of patronage reassured her. 
Here was some one to whom she could talk ! 



I2 4 JUST FOLKS 

She asked Beth to come in, and Beth accepted 
gladly. 

Dinah's confidence came slowly, at first, as if 
feeling its way with great caution ; then, satisfied 
of Beth's worthiness to hear, it poured out like 
a released flood. 

Dinah had graduated from the High School in 
June. She was anxious to do something to help 
her father — to ease his burden — and to provide 
for her own future. But what ? Beth suggested 
home work on artificial flowers or on feathers. 
She was a little indignant at the way Dinah 
repulsed these suggestions. What did Dinah 
want to do ? Dinah wanted to be an artist. 
With difficulty Beth repressed a gasp. Dinah 
got up and went into the "front room," returning 
with two framed pictures she had painted. One 
was of an ornate Swiss chalet precariously perched 
on a steep mountain side above a lake. The 
other showed three pink roses in a bright blue 
vase. Beth knew little about art, but she thought 
the pictures were no worse than the average High 
School pupil makes in the drawing class, and 
rather remarkable for Dinah to have made with 
those stubby fingers. 

Thus launched upon the theme dearest to her 
heart, Dinah's confidences grew more and more 
intimate. Beth was amazed at the soaring am- 
bition of this girl, and awe-struck at the thought 
of how terrible must be her disappointment. 



JUST FOLKS 125 

It was staggering to contemplate — the future of 
this girl with her affliction and her pride and her 
towering desires. Beth could think of nothing to 
say. 

"You think I cannot — that I am too — 
short ?" said Dinah. 

" No — no ! " Beth hastened to reply. But her 
manner was unconvincing. "What do your par- 
ents think ? " she asked. 

Dinah's face was a study, and she did not 
answer for several moments. Then the amazing 
story came out. 

"I wonder if you can understand ?" she said. 

Beth looked surprised, and Dinah hastened to 
explain. Had Beth wondered at the cause of 
Dinah's "shortness" ? Confused, Beth tried to 
make it seem that she had not. Dinah told what 
the doctors — not the neighborhood doctors, but 
the great doctors in the hospital clinics — had 
said the matter was ; and how for months of 
futile effort she had followed their directions and 
eaten raw sheep thyroids procured from the stock- 
yards at an expense great to the Slinskys and 
swallowed with a heroism that taxed Dinah to the 
utmost. But only she had hoped for help from 
them, so only she was disappointed when they 
failed to aid. Her parents — ! Did Beth think 
Dinah a strange name for a Jewish girl ? In 
school the teachers, accustomed to a world of 
Roses and Lilies and Rachels and Sarahs and Idas 



126 JUST FOLKS 

and Rebeccas, always thought Dinah "a nig- 
ger name." Whereunto Dinah explained : her 
father's name was Jacob ; and in the Bible, 
was not Jacob's daughter named Dinah ? But 
— ! Did Beth know what Dinah meant ? It 
meant "Judgment." Dinah looked at Beth to 
see if she seemed to comprehend. Judgment ! 

"And your parents knew — ?" asked Beth. 

Dinah nodded. 

"And they believe — ? " 

"Yes ; that I am God's judgment on them for 
some wrong." 

"Do they — do they think they know what the 
wrong is ?" 

"No, they cannot tell. Something in their 
lives has displeased Jehovah and — I am — 
short." 

Beth's eyes blazed. " You don't believe that, 
do you ?" 

Dinah's face changed expression ; the rebellion 
faded and the look of the zealot, ardent for immo- 
lation, came instead. " ' The fathers,' " she said, 
"'have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth 
are set on edge.' " 

Beth opened her mouth to make quick retort, 
then closed it again, on sobering second thought. 

This was the supreme tragedy of Dinah ; not 
the bonds of poverty nor the bonds of her afflic- 
tion, but the bonds of her own belief held her 
most cruelly fast in the pit, looking yearningly 



JUST FOLKS 127 

aloft toward the heights where her ambition 
soared. 

When Eleanor Brent called, next day, Beth 
was so full of the story of Dinah she could talk of 
nothing else. 

" There's the girl for you !" she cried. "Your 
obvious cultivation would frighten Angela Ann ; 
it will appease the pride of poor Dinah. And oh ! 
that pride. How you'll long to feed it, for her 
present comfort ! And how you'll fear to feed it 
for her future peace of mind !" 

Beth left Mrs. Brent to talk with Liza while she 
went to knock at the Slinskys' door and inquire 
with utmost diplomacy if she might bring a 
friend to call — a friend to whom she had spoken 
of Dinah's paintings — a friend who understood 
much more about such things than Beth did. 

Liza had, of course, been told about Beth's 
visit and had her own opinions about the Slin- 
skys' situation. 

"The idea of anybody holdin' such heathen 
doctrines !" she declared. "Them Jews hadn't 
ought to have ever come to a up-to-date Christian 
country like this where there ain't nobody go in' 
t' put up with their outlandish beliefs. I don't 
see who ever saddled 'em with such a crazy lot o' 
laws." 

"Moses — mostly," Eleanor suggested. 

"Humph!" Liza snorted. "I don't doubt 



128 JUST FOLKS 

he was a right smart man fer his time. But, 
land ! he's been dead a few thousand years an' 
the world's a-bin learnin' somethin' ever since 
he quit it. I says as much to one o' them Jew 
women that was arguin' t' me about their ways 
one day. Why, if them Jews was starvin' they 
wouldn't touch good Christian meat ; want the 
blood all koshered out of it, till 'tain't fit t' sole 
shoes with; ain't enough fer 'em to insist on 
gittin' cattle killed the bloodiest possible way, 
but when they git the meat they soak it in salt- 
water for hours till you wouldn' know it from 
tripe ! And when she come back at me 'bout 
Moses I jest up an' told her. ' Them laws,' 
I says, 'may 'a' been all right fer the children o' 
Israel in the Wilderness, because look at 'em ! 
Bein' slaves so long, they was that scurvy an' 
low down 'at God had to drive 'em out into the 
desert an' let clean air blow on 'em fer forty years, 
an' one generation die off an' another come on, 
'fore He could let 'em into a decent country. 
Seems t' me,' I says, 'I'd have more pride about 
me 'n t' act's if I thought them laws was meant 
fer me !' But 'tain't no use in yer wastin' wind 
on 'em ! They think they know, and that's an 
end on'tl" 

"Most people are positive about their religious 
beliefs — if they have any," Eleanor said. 

"Not me!" declared Liza, promptly. "I 
ain't never been one to haggle about religion." 



JUST FOLKS 129 

Eleanor repressed a smile. "They don't try 
to interfere with any one else's ways, do they ?" 
she asked. 

" Well, I should hope not ! Fer of all the crazy 
ways, their ways is worst. Why, they dassent t' 
strike a match on Satadys, t' light a fire; but 
they pay a Gentile child a nickel t' strike it fer 
'em, an' then they warm theirselves by it ! And 
they dassent take a knife in hand to cut the string 
of a passel ; but if you'll undo the passel an' 
hand 'em the contents, they'll do most anythin' 
with it. It's a sin to ride in a car, Satadys ; but 
it ain't no sin t' walk down town an' go t' the 
theayter — if ye got the price. Seems that 
Moses, not knowin' about theayters, didn' 
think t' say nothin' agin 'em." > 

Eleanor looked thoughtful. "Well," she said, 
" I guess most religions have their inconsistencies ; 
or^rather, some of the people who practise them 
have. When I was a child I was not allowed 
to play anything on the piano, Sundays, but 
hymn tunes. After I discovered that a number 
of the most pious hymns were set to music from 
operas, I always chose those to play and pre- 
tended to myself I was playing opera, though 
father thought I was playing hymns. And it 
was forbidden to study lessons on Sunday. But 
when I began to study Greek, I could read the 
Greek Testament on Sunday and learn some- 
thing without actually breaking the law. I had 



130 JUST FOLKS 

no better sense of the Christian religion than 
that ! " 

Liza seemed inclined for further discussion, 
but just then Beth came back and said the Slinskys 
had asked her to bring her friend in. 

The heat had abated by a few degrees, but the 
abatement was more perceptible outdoors than 
in ; the houses of the Ghetto were like slow- 
cooling ovens, and the atmosphere of the Slinskys' 
"front room" was pretty bad. But Eleanor's 
breeding was exquisite, and if she was discom- 
fited by the closeness and the rancid poverty 
smell, she gave no sign. Beth noted the keen way 
in which Mrs. Slinsky watched Eleanor, as if on 
the alert to detect the least evidence of curiosity 
or condescension, and to resent it. The little 
be-wigged grandmother, who talked only Yiddish, 
faded away after one look at the visitors ; Sarah 
was not at home; so they were but four in the 
Slinskys' room of ceremony, and after a few 
moments the conversation settled to an animated 
interchange between Eleanor and Dinah with the 
other two no more than deeply-interested on- 
lookers. 

The paintings were displayed and discussed 
gravely. Dinah spoke of her desire to be a 
painter, and Eleanor offered what advice she 
could regardless, apparently, of any obstacles 
like grim poverty and stubby fingers. 

Mrs. Slinsky was lost in admiration of her 



JUST FOLKS 131 

Dinah's cleverness. Beth was as lost in admira- 
tion of Eleanor's. 

In some turn the conversation took, Eleanor 
mentioned Millet. Dinah had heard of him. 
Eleanor went on to speak of his pictures, his life, 
his ideals, the opposition he had met, what he 
stood for in art, in a way not noticeably different 
than she might have followed in talking with 
others who, like herself, had studied the best 
of the Millet pictures, had been to Barbizon, 
had read his Life and Letters, and knew the art 
history of his day. Dinah was delighted and 
even Mrs. Slinsky was appreciative. Eleanor 
mentioned Millet's poverty, his sufferings from ill- 
health, his struggles to support his large family, 
his simple peasant's life, his credo as expressed 
in the famous letter to Sensier after the storm of 
criticism aroused by "The Man with the Hoe." 

To Beth, listening as raptly as any, the poor 
"front room" of the Slinskys seemed, suddenly, 
a wonderful place transfused with the light of a 
great life greatly lived. 

Eleanor spoke of Napoleon III and his im- 
patience with the fame of Millet; of how the 
Emperor exclaimed "Enough ! I am tired hear- 
ing of this painter of sabots;" and of how the 
Emperor had died, discrowned and dishonored, 
while the world's veneration of the painter and the 
ideals he stood for grew deeper and more ineradi- 
cable with every year. 



132 JUST FOLKS 

"Israels, too, paints poor people," said Dinah. 

Yes, Eleanor had had the honor to meet 
Israels, to be in his studio. She owned a pic- 
ture of his which she hoped Dinah would come 
and see. 

"There has never been a great painter of the 
Ghetto, yet," Eleanor went on, almost as if 
musing aloud. "The French peasant has his 
Millet and his Breton; the Dutch cottagers 
have Blommers; the Dutch fisherfolk their 
Israels. But the picturesque city types, espe- 
cially those in which all Ghettoes are rich, have 
no painter." 

Dinah's face was all alight with tremulous 
hope. "I — I should love to paint them," she 
said, "but I am so — short." 

"Israels is short," said Eleanor, "almost as 
short as you are." 

"Is he?" cried Dinah. "And he is a Jew, 
too ! Not many Jews have been great artists, I 
know; but he is." 

"There is no reason why Jews shouldn't be," 
Eleanor broke in eagerly; "they're the most po- 
etic people on earth, with the most wonderful 
traditions !" 

That burst of unmistakably real enthusiasm 
gave Eleanor a secure place in the Slinsky affec- 
tions. 

"And then," she went on, "you're a Pole, 
aren't you ? Think of the heritage you have 



JUST FOLKS 133 

there ! Why, any one who is a Jew and a Pole 
ought to be equal to anything artistic !" 

For an instant, Dinah seemed carried away by 
the vision offered her. Then her face clouded, 
and Eleanor almost winced before the pain in it 
as she said : — 

"Yes, I have it all in me here," pointing to her 
heart, "but only these," holding out her stubby 
hands, "to express it with." 

No one was able to speak for a moment during 
which the light seemed to fade from the dingy 
room as from Dinah's face, and the air to be- 
come heavy with its habitual woe, its grim 
acceptance of "Judgment." 

Then Eleanor's voice, speaking very softly, 
broke the strained silence. "The reason," she 
said, so earnestly that no one could doubt her 
intense sincerity, "that I thought you might 
become a great artist is that you have so much to 
overcome. Great overcoming has been the his- 
tory of all great art. It seems, the more you 
learn about it, that the first thing God does, 
when He wants anybody to be great, is to fill 
that person's way with apparently insurmount- 
able obstacles." 

"Then you think — ?" whispered Dinah, 
afraid to breathe it aloud. 

"I feel quite sure God must have meant you 
to do something unusually fine, or He wouldn't 
have made you as you are." 



i 3 4 JUST FOLKS 

After Eleanor had gone home, radiant with 
plans for Dinah's future, Dinah came tapping 
very timidly on Liza Allen's kitchen door. She 
wouldn't come in ; she just wanted to speak to 
Beth from the hall — to speak about Mrs. Brent. 

"I think," said Dinah, speaking of her new 
friend, "she must be a very great lady, because 
she made me feel so happy." 

Which same, Beth thought, was as good a defi- 
nition of great ladyhood as she had ever heard. 



VIII 

It is almost impossible to make a daylight 
call unannounced in Henry Street. The out- 
posts are legion ; some of them are found to be 
even beyond the confines of Henry Street itself, 
in a group of marble players on Waller Street or 
among a flying squadron of "hitchers" on Blue 
Island Avenue. On sight of any stranger whose 
destination they know, these lookouts will 
either communicate the news to the nearest 
member of the household to be visited or, if the 
call promises to be of general interest, will dive 
down some alley short-cut and deliver the an- 
nouncement, avant courier fashion, in kitchen 
door or window. 

It was well on past mid-afternoon of a swelter- 
ing day in early September — when Chicago 
usually has its most withering heat — that 
Frankie Finnegan shouted at Dewey Casey, 
"Yer aunt's comin' !" 

It was no secret to any one in Henry Street that 
Mary Casey's sisters, and in particular this Mrs. 
Foley, disapproved of Casey and seldom visited 
the Casey family; and by the time she had 
reached the top of the stairs leading down to the 

135 



136 JUST FOLKS 

Caseys' passageway, Mrs. Foley had a large and 
unabashed following. 

Dewey was watering his garden when the 
word came, and the poor, soggy bit of ground 
must have been grateful for the rival interest 
which withdrew Dewey for a brief space and gave 
the yard-square of oozy earth a respite from 
anxious waterings. 

Mary thanked her stars that she didn't happen 
to be washing, and that the kitchen was fairly 
clean and free from litter. The children, even to 
baby Annie, were playing in the street when 
Frankie shouted his announcement, but they were 
in Mrs. Foley's wake, every one, before she reached 
her sister's door, and with them was a motley 
collection of neighbors under sixteen. 

"Come in, Kate !" said Mary. "Sure, I'm 
awful glad t' see ye. An' how 've ye bin ?" 

"I'm bad, Mamie; I'm tur'ble bad. My 
stum'ck won' work at all." 

At this interesting beginning the followers 
came closer. They included five Caseys, three 
Conleys from across the street, several Riordans 
(newly moved in upstairs) and an indefinite 
number of Russian Jews — the Rubovitzes among 
them — from above, and beside, and behind, and 
everywhere. The kitchen seemed crowded to 
suffocation, the Jews waxing so bold as to stand 
under Mrs. Foley's very nose and to handle her 
garments with appraising fingers. 



JUST FOLKS 137 

" Fer th' love o' Heaven ! send off some o' 
these Sheenies, can't ye?" Mrs. Foley cried 
irritably. 

With no little difficulty Mary chased them out, 
but she had to shut the door to keep them at bay. 
In a moment the heat became unbearable and the 
door had to be opened again, with Johnny and 
Midget stationed at the threshold to defy in- 
vaders — a situation of which they made the 
most, Johnny enforcing his orders with a battered 
broom. 

"Are they always after doin' this way?' 5 
asked Mrs. Foley, shooting disdainful glances at 
the undisturbed Hebrews. 

"Mos'ly," confessed Mary, apologetically. 
"Thim Jews has no behavior an' ye can't do 
nothin' wid 'em." 

"'Tis a fine day whin a Christian body can't 
call on her own sister an' tell her troubles, widout 
bein' run over wid a pack of Sheenies," observed 
Mrs. Foley, who lived beyond the confines of 
the Ghetto and felt frank commiseration for her 
poor relations. And, just to spite the curious 
hovering near the threshold, Mrs. Foley entered 
upon no further discussion of her "stum'ck" and 
its woes, but plied her sister with questions about 
the welfare of the Caseys until Mollie who had 
been dispatched for beer, returned with her 
pitcher, and hospitality began in earnest. 

"Is he workin' ? " inquired the guest. 



138 JUST FOLKS 

"Off V on, but not stiddy. Seem like theer's 
no wither that's rale good fer cuttin' stone — 
winters 'tis too cold, an' springs 'tis too wet, an' 
summers 'tis too warm. I'm after tellin' Johnny, 
here, whin he go t' work, t' take up wid a trade 
that's indoors, so he kin git on in all withers." 

"Is he drinkin' much ?" 

"Not much. He do be havin' his drinks ivry 
day, an' avenin's he bring min in here t' play 
cards an' have theer beer. But sure ye can't 
ixpict annythin' else. I niver see a man that was 
dif'runt — they all have th' failin'. But it's 
not the drink I'd mind so much, if he was just 
stiddy. I tell ye, Kate, ye kin stan' most anny- 
thin' if theer stiddy an' got ambition t' git on. 
An' that's what he ain't niver had." 

The moral tone of Mrs. Casey's reflections was 
a disappointment to the Jews. They hearkened 
to a little of it, then melted reluctantly away. 
Even the Caseys found it familiarly dull and 
straggled off one by one to other pursuits — 
Dewey to carry another dipper of water to his 
drenched garden in the hope of accelerating the 
peach crop expected from five pits, now a week 
planted with no visible results in spite of zealous 
watering. 

i "Whin 'tis not wan t'ing 'tis another," ob- 
served Mrs. Foley, sententiously. "Ye t'ink if 
yer man'd be stiddy ye'd be a' right. But my 
man's stiddy, an' I'm goin' t' be outs wid 'im." 



JUST FOLKS 139 

"Fer th' love o' Hivin ! Why ?" cried Mary. 

" 'Count o' me bein' sick s' much. He says he's 
tired of it. 'It's "hidache" here, an' "me stum- 
'ck" there, an' midecine an' doctor bills ivry- 
wheer,' he says, 'an' I wish ye'd die an' be done 
wid it,' he says." 

Mrs. Foley's tears fell as she told her sad tale 
— big briny drops that rolled slowly down her 
shrunken cheeks and splashed on the scrawny 
hands folded passively in her lap. 

Mollie and baby Annie stared, wide-eyed; 
even the baby seemed to sense the scene as un- 
usual, and Mollie was quite wisely aware that it 
was no ordinary day when her Aunt Kate came 
to their kitchen to cry. 

For Aunt Kate's husband was a stationary 
engineer who earned his $75 a month and held 
his head very high, notwithstanding Pa Casey's 
reminders, on those infrequent occasions when he 
had the chance, that " stone-cuttin' be worth a 
hundred an' twinty a month agin a man that kin 
do it 'd work ivry day." The Foleys lived in a 
flat on West Lake Street, and had a front parlor 
with a "stuffed suit" and a patent rocker and a 
mantel-shelf shrouded in a voluminous purple 
"drape" and burdened with innumerable fancy 
cups and vases secured with trading stamps or 
given with pounds of tea. 

On rare occasions the Casey children had been 
taken to call at this swell establishment, but it 



i 4 o JUST FOLKS 

could not truthfully be said that they were 
ever encouraged to make free with their rich rela- 
tions. 

There were no children in the Foley flat — 
only highly-colored "enlargements," in plush and 
gilt frames, of children's photographs : little 
girls in much Hamburg edging and wide sashes, 
and little boys in enormous Fauntleroy collars 
and queer little Derby hats. The children were 
all in Calvary, whither most of them (there had 
been ten) had gone even before the days of sashes 
and stiff hats. 

Doubtless it was because she had so little else 
to do that Mrs. Foley — like other idle rich — 
found so much time to be sick. Mary Casey was 
certainly not less broken down and ailing, but 
had no time to remember the fact. If Casey had 
wished her dead, she would have felt no surprise. 
Indeed, he had more than once tried to assist her 
speedily out of the world by violence; but she 
laid the offence, with all his others, to that fatal 
lack of ambition which was the curse of their lives. 

But that Foley should show this hardness of 
heart toward his wife's sufferings was a terrible 
shock to Mary Casey, who had always envied her 
sister Foley's "stiddiness" while sympathizing 
with her in the loss of one child after another. 
Not for any consideration of income would Mary 
have changed places with her sister and lived in 
the childless Foley home ; but nevertheless — like 



JUST FOLKS 141 

most of us — she was inclined to dreams of 
what might have been if she could have added 
Kate's blessings to her own and dispensed with the 
drawbacks of either lot in life. 

"Well, now!" she ejaculated as Mrs. Foley 
told her tale. "What d' ye t'ink o' that ? Me 
always feelin' how aisy ye had it, wid a nice house 
an' plinty o' ivrythin' an' no worry o' bein' set 
out er havin' the stove took off o' ye er yer word 
rayfused t' the groc'ry ! It do go t' show that all 
has theer troubles. Now, don't it, Kate?" 

Kate nodded a forlorn assent. She had none 
of Mary Casey's interest in the philosophy of 
trouble. She could only remember that Foley 
had wished she would die and have done with her 
sickly wails. 

"An' whin I'm gon' !" she cried, shrill anger 
taking the place of despair, "I'll bet I'll not be 
cold before he's foun' him some strappin' huzzy 
that's not wore out wid his tin childern all in 
Calvary — God rist theer souls ! " 

"Sure!" Mary's eyes blazed at the thought 
of this injustice. "That's mini But I'd fool 
him ! I'd git aven wid 'im. Is it a husky guy 
he want ? Thin you be that husky guy ! " 

A gleam of interest shone in Mrs. Foley's 
tear-filled eyes, and her sister went on. 

"You take my word, Kate Foley, an' give 'im 
what he wants ! Stop doin' yer washin'. He's 
will-t'-do; l'ave 'm pay fer a washerwoman fer 



i 4 2 JUST FOLKS 

ye. An' lay down an' take t'ings aisy. Drink a 
couple o' beers ivry day an' put some fat on ye — 
I niver see the man that could abide bones. 
An' thin buy yersilf some nice dressin' sacks an' go 
out on th' Avena an' have some style about ye. 
Take car rides, an' see if the air don' hilp yer hid. 
An' if it don't, let on like it did. Stop tellin' 
'bout yer stum'ck an' yer hid, an' brag 'bout yer 
new sacks an' what ye seen an' wheer yer goin' 
nixt. 'Tis what his husky guy'd be doin' if you 
was in yer grave." 

Mrs. Foley dried her eyes. "I b'leeve I will," 
she said, with a self-conscious little giggle. 

Mary was deliciously excited. "Got anny 
money ?" 

Yes, Mrs. Foley had six dollars ; but it was 
"agin th' rint." 

"Niver mind th' rint," commanded Mary, 
"Pete Foley ain't goin' t' git set out fer no six 
dollars. You come right out wid me an' I'll help 
ye spind it. Thin, whin Ang'la Ann come home 
she'll l'arn ye a shwell new way o' doin' yer hair ; 
an' agin ye go home, Pete Foley'll t'ink yer some 
husky guy come t' flirt wid 'im, an' be takin' 
ye t' shoot th' chutes." 

All Kate Foley's doubts fled before this picture 
conjured by persuasive eloquence, and she actu- 
ally allowed Mollie and Midget to walk hand 
in hand with her to Klein's Emporium, Mary 
leading the way with wee Annie in her arms. 



JUST FOLKS 143 

It was so long since the sickly, broken-spirited, 
little dyspeptic had taken any interest in personal 
adornment that she was far behind Mary in en- 
thusiasm for "style," though Mary had not 
bought herself a stitch of clothes in unnumbered 
years, but wore the grotesque motley of people's 
careless charity. 

True to feminine nature, the first purchase was 
a hat. Mrs. Foley's rusty, black straw sailor 
was laid on a counter and the two women and 
three children abandoned themselves to the deli- 
ciousness of the moment. Mollie and Midget ran 
far down the aisles collecting every imaginable 
kind of head-gear, which their aunt and mother 
successively tried on, then handed back for the 
children to perch at rakish angles on their own 
unkempt heads while they smirked delightedly at 
themselves in the mirrors. Even wee Annie made 
the most of this "trying" opportunity — or the 
others did for her — and dimpled and smiled 
under the brims of hats deemed "swell" for 
babies in the Ghetto. 

At length Mrs. Foley and her admiring train 
agreed upon a confection of pale blue tarletan, 
much frilled and shirred, with a drooping effect 
of coarse, yellow lace over the brim and a spray of 
solferino pink roses about the crown. 

"Ooh !" breathed Midget and Mollie, ecstati- 
cally, caressing it with tender but dirty fingers. 

"Me!" screamed Annie, lurching toward it, 



144 JUST FOLKS 

entranced, and yelling loudly when it was 
snatched from under her grasp and carried off to 
the wrapping desk to be done up in a paper bag. 
The next purchases were on the same floor, one 
was a white shirt-waist, very "peekaboo," and 
the other was a kimona sack of gay-colored 
lawn, with bands of turkey red. 

"He do love rid," Mrs. Foley murmured as she 
chose this. 

On the main floor they bought a red neck ribbon 
and a red tulle bow. Then Mrs. Foley was for 
stopping, but Mary Casey was intoxicated and 
there was no halting her till the six dollars were 
gone. Not since she was married had she assisted 
at the spending of so much money "at wan 
lick." 

She paused at the jewelry counter, transfixed 
with delight, a queer, pathetic figure with her 
stained, bedrabbled brown skirt six inches too 
short in front and nearly as much sundered from 
her bulging gray flannel waist at the belt behind. 
She was bareheaded, with her wisp of dark hair 
screwed into a hard little knot like a butternut 
and "skewered" with a huge spike of a steel 
hairpin from which the blacking had long since 
worn off. 

"Look !" she cried joyously, holding out a 
long chain of blue beads. "Thim's swell, Kate," 
she tempted, "thim's awful swell. I'm after 
seein' all the high-steppers wearin' 'em, wid a fan 



JUST FOLKS 145 

'tached to th' ind ! Ye got to stip high for Pete 
Foley — if ye don't, some wan ilse will." 

So the beads were bought — also a fan made 
of cloth roses that closed to simulate a bouquet. 
It seemed to Kate Foley then that there was 
nothing more for money to buy, but Mary Casey 
was not so minded. The crowning extravagance, 
marking the "swell" that was-to-be, was near the 
door, on the way out. Mrs. Foley balked ; this 
was going too far. But Mary held out, her eyes 
shining with excitement. 

"They all do," she whispered, "th' min are 
great after it." And a bottle of cheap but power- 
ful perfume was added to the pile of purchases. 
Then the homeward march began. 

It was half-past five when they reached Henry 
Street, where their appearance, bundle-laden, was 
the signal for the gathering of a crowd. 

Down the long flight of rickety stairs they went 
single file, and along the dark, narrow passageway 
between their tenement and the next, the proces- 
sion following. The Caseys had disdain for the 
rabble, as became persons so splendidly con- 
nected, but they had no wish to disperse it; 
for what's the value of splendor if there's no one 
to envy you ? 

One by one the things were unwrapped and 
spread in overpowering array on the kitchen 
table. 

"Ye mus' go home in 'em," Mary commanded. 



146 JUST FOLKS 

"Agin Ang'la Ann come she'll be showin' ye a lot. 
She's tur'ble quick at style, an' she see a lot; 
fer thim girls wheer she work is dredful dressy — 
'cordin' t' what she say." 

Angela Ann came in at half-past six and viewed 
with astonishment the purchases. 

"Yer aunt," said Mary, "have been frettin' 
hersilf sick over the childern all bein' took an' 
her stum'ck actin' quare-like. An' I've told 'er 
what she nade is t' spunk up an' enjoy life an' 
l'ave off grievin'. So she 've bought some new 
t'ings fer t' spruce hersilf wid an' surprise yer 
Uncle Peter." 

"Sure," Angela Ann agreed, comprehendingly. 
"Ain't I always tellin' ye a person have got t' 
dress fer min ? I b'leeve Pa'd git a hustle on 'im 
if you spruced up an' made 'im !" 

Mary sighed. "'Tain't the same," she said. 
"'Tis nothin' t' yer pa how I look. Yer aunt 
Kate'll have a playsure in givin' her man this 
nice surprise, because he's stiddy an'll apprayciate 
it. But yer pa ain't like him. He ain't got no 
ambition t' git on, an' it's nothin' t' him how I 
look." 

All this, as doubtless Mary intended, was send- 
ing Pete Foley's stock steadily up with Mrs. 
Kate, already beginning to wear the airs of a 
woman whose charms are her tower of strength. 

Angela Ann took down her aunt's coarse, oily 
hair and built her a pompadour of dimensions as 



JUST FOLKS 147 

towering as the lack of "rats" would permit. 
Then the peekaboo waist was donned and the 
scarlet neck ribbon tied behind, the tulle bow 
pinned on in front. Beads and fan were adjusted, 
and Mrs. Foley's handkerchief was soaked in 
cologne, and the new hat put on. 

Mary surveyed the results with beaming pride. 
"My land !" she cried, ecstatically, "ye look fer 
all the world like Mis' Patter Pammer in the Sunda' 
papers !" 

The small children accompanied their resplen- 
dent relative to the car ; Angela Ann stayed be- 
hind and indulged in bitter observations to her 
ma. 

"Pm sick an' tired o' the way we have t' do," 
she said — the prospect of her aunt's dramatic 
home-coming making her sore with envy. 

"I know," soothed Mary. "But whin I t'ink 
o' yer aunt's nice house wid niver a child in it, 
'tain't me that'd trade places wid 'er." 

"Well, / would!" cried Angela. "We got 
too many kids around here an' that's why we 
can't never git along. I'm tired o' havin' 
everythin' I earn et off o' me an' never a cent t' git 
me a decent t'ing wid !" 

Mary's face was a study. She had no reply 
ready, as she usually had, but seemed to be strug- 
gling to say something that was difficult to say. 
Angela Ann, in her bitter self-absorption, did not 
notice her mother ; and Mary, suddenly weak in 



148 JUST FOLKS 

the knees, went into her bedroom and sat down 
on the edge of her bed. 

When she reappeared thence, in a few moments, 
she began a new conversation on quite different 
lines. It was intended to cheer up Angela — but 
Angela refused to be cheered. 

After supper that night, Mary went over to 
Maxwell Street. Beth was not in, and Liza 
was entertaining Adam Spear, so that Mary did 
not feel welcome to wait. She asked if Liza 
knew where Miss Tully was, and Liza said she 
thought Beth was at that small Settlement not 
far away to which, one evening a week, her pro- 
bation boys came to report to her. So Mary 
walked over in the direction of the Settlement and 
waited for Beth to come out. 

It was one of those muggy nights when the 
Ghetto streets swarm so thickly with humanity 
that even one who is used to the sight can never 
get through asking himself what America is to 
do with these hordes on hordes of people 
increasing so rapidly, by immigration and by 
births, that their numbers make the brain whirl. 

Beth had been coping all evening — as, indeed, 
she coped all the time — with the results of over- 
crowding ; of no place to play, no room at home 
to stay in, no decency in the close living quarters, 
and she was disheartened with the great, big, 
unequal fight. 



JUST FOLKS 149 

When she caught sight of Mary, her heart 
sank ; for she knew Mary would not have sought 
her out except to ask her aid in trouble, and it 
seemed to-night that she was too discouraged 
to hear another woe. 

"Well, Mary," she said, trying to speak 
cheerily, as they threaded their way through the 
swarming streets, "how are things going with 
you ?" 

"Pritty fair," Mary answered, "but I got 
awful misgivin's." 

"What about?" 

"'Bout Ang'la for wan t'ing. An' about — 
well, all av us, fer another." 

"Has Angela quit her job ? " 

"No'm, she haven't — yit." 

"Is she going to ?" 

" I dunno, Miss Tully — I dunno what she'll 
do — whin she know — " 

"Knows what?" 

Then followed an account of the afternoon, and 
of the brief conversation between Angela Ann 
and her mother after Aunt Kate had gone. 

"Well, it's natural for a young girl to feel 
that way. You couldn't expect Angela to appre- 
ciate how you feel about your children, or how 
much less happiness your sister can get from 
her finery than she would have had if her babies 
had lived." 

"No," said Mary, eagerly, "that's just it — 



ISO JUST FOLKS 

she can't understan' — an' so — I dunno what- 
iver she'll do whin she have t' know — " 

"Know what ?" 

"About th' — th' new wan — " 

"The what?" 

"Th' new wan that's comin' — " 

"To you?" 

" Yis — " 

"Mary!" 

"I know how ye feel, Miss Tully," Mary 
pleaded, "but ye don't understan'. Ye've niver 
had wan o' yer own. I know theer's too manny 
av us now, be some folks' way o' countin'; I 
know we've not enough fer thim we have to ate ; 
I do fale bad-like fer the poor little t'ing that be 
comin' into a hard world widout askin' t' come. 
But if it fale like I do, it'll be glad it come — 
glad of all it have to suffer to stay here — 
ivry time it hold a little child av its own in its 
arms. I ain't had much happiness, be your way 
o' t'inkin', Miss Tully, but whin I look back 
an' misure it all up, I wouldn' trade me hard life 
wid its baby fingers clutchin' at me brist, fer the 
aisiest single life anny woman iver lived. An' 
I can't be sorry 'bout the new wan. I know we'll 
git along, some way. An' him ! You wouldn' 
belave ! He's that pleased-like, an' he talk 
lovely 'bout what he's goin' t' do fer it. I 
wouldn' be su'prised if 'twas the makin' of him 
git a stiddy job !" 



JUST FOLKS 151 

"I suppose," said Beth, repeating this as best 
she could to Eleanor, next day, "that hope must 
be always and always renewing itself — especially 
in Henry Street — or life couldn't go on. And 
every new baby is a new hope, a new channel 
through which happiness may come. I suppose 
that is why God sends them so freely to the 
Ghetto — where they have to have some thing 
to look forward to ! . . . But oh ! I'm fearful 
about Angela Ann, when she knows. A 'new 
one' to her, is just one more hungry mouth be- 
tween her and what she thinks is happiness." 



IX 



Eleanor Brent had no considerable amount of 
money to dispense, for she had come back to her 
parents completely dependent on them, and she 
was like most proud young women in like cir- 
cumstance : willing to accept far less from them 
than she had accepted in her girlhood. In vain 
they argued — those doting parents — with this 
only child. "It used to seem my right," she 
said, "and I took all you gave me without ques- 
tion. But now I feel that it's not my right, but 
your kindness, and I don't want to tax it any 
more than I can help." 

This hurt her parents cruelly, but they hoped 
it was only a phase and would pass. 

Meantime, however, Eleanor had abundance 
of what is worth more than money to one with 
an interest in the Nineteenth Ward; she had 
knowledge of life and of its opportunities, and 
influence to help the aspiring toward their hearts' 
desires. 

It was, for instance, a simple matter for her to 
get Dinah a free scholarship in the Art Institute. 
Then she talked to the Director and to some of 
the teachers about Dinah, and sketched vividly 

152 



JUST FOLKS 153 

and with intense sympathy the background 
against which Dinah's life was lived, the pathetic 
acceptance of her affliction as " Judgment." 

This paved the way beautifully for Dinah, who 
found a world of kindliness as well as a world 
of inspiration and instruction in the beautiful 
gray building on the Lake Front. 

The Slinskys would not have taken any money 
from Eleanor, but they were easily persuaded to 
accept the free scholarship for Dinah, when Elea- 
nor explained to them how money was set aside 
in every enlightened municipality — and always 
has been, these many centuries — for the educa- 
tion of its talented youth. "For it has almost 
never happened," she went on, "that the children 
of parents who could afford to pay were the chil- 
dren with the divine gifts. Nearly every great 
artist was born in poverty; and do you know 
what ? The rich and splendid persons who 
helped them to get education, would have been 
forgotten long ago, but for that one act. All we 
know about some of the richest and most splendid 
personages that ever lived is that they helped 
such and such an artist ! If the artists hadn't 
allowed them to help, they'd never have been 
heard of at all. If Dinah becomes a great 
painter, like Israels, she can give the Art Institute 
in glory, ten thousand times as much as it gives 
her in lessons." 

Seeing it thus, the Slinskys consented. 



154 JUST FOLKS 

Then there was Abe. He was anxious to be- 
come a civil engineer, but afraid he could not 
because he might have to work on Saturdays. 
He thought that probably he would have to be a 
teacher instead. Eleanor took him to see a man 
she knew who was a civil engineer. This man 
was enthusiastically in love with his profession 
and, talking with him, Abe's ardor for it grew by 
leaps and bounds. But on the homeward way 
he told Eleanor he could see he must not think 
of being an engineer, " for how, on the plains or 
such places where I should work, could I get food 
according to the Law, or properly observe my 
Shabbas?" 

The inflexibility of Abe was a wonder to 
Eleanor. He wanted to get on; he had more 
ambition than his father. Jacob could never 
have known any struggle about a profession, for 
Jacob had only one great purpose in life — the 
strict observance of his religious duties ; he 
could never have thought twice about a means 
of livelihood which would interfere with them. 
But Jacob's son was American born, and had gone 
to American public schools. The atmosphere he 
breathed was full of independence, of individual- 
ism, of the ardor for success. Not only every 
American boy Abe knew, but every Jewish 
boy, was determined to make his life a big ad- 
vance, in worldly prosperity, upon his father's 
life. Abe had all this desire to succeed, but he 



JUST FOLKS 155 

had a rigidity of Hebraic belief which never bent. 
Ambition dashed against that rock and made Abe 
unhappy ; but the rock showed no signs of erosion. 
Eleanor could only marvel at the boy. But when 
she grew bitterly impatient with him, she reminded 
herself how he, too, was anxious to keep every letter 
of the Law, hoping thereby to appease Jehovah. 

It wasn't that they hoped by their rigor to 
effect Dinah's physical recovery. They had 
hoped that once, but the hope was gone, now. 
But they must be unremitting in their zeal so as 
to move God to lift the curse from their line; 
otherwise it might descend, on and on, to future 
generations. "The enormous personal responsi- 
bility they feel!" said Eleanor to Beth. "No 
wonder the Jews are a sad people." 

On the other hand, though, there was Sarah. 
Sarah was not sad, and orthodoxy troubled Sarah 
only as it was imposed upon her, not as she felt 
its urgings from within. Sarah was in High 
School, too — in first year — but her interests 
were not at all scholastic. Sarah was wildly 
enamored of the stage. It was only a question of 
time when Sarah would leave home ; and doubt- 
less she would run away. For the stage is no 
respecter of Saturdays, and when Sarah got ready 
to go she would either take for granted the 
parental objection and go without asking leave, 
or would ask leave and, failing to get it, go 
anyway. Beth and Eleanor could see this im- 



156 JUST FOLKS 

pending, after they had talked twice with her. 
Obviously, the thing to do for Sarah was to get 
her confidence and try to see that when she 
went on the stage she should go fortified with 
some instruction and good advice and get into 
a company where the general tone would tend 
to help her up instead of down. 

All this was a large contract for Eleanor, but 
she went at it with a will. She could do little 
for Abe; there was a struggle for which she 
could have no sympathy, respect it as she must. 
No one could do anything for Jacob except to 
make his children happy. For himself he asked 
nothing but liberty to worship as he must, and 
health to keep his family from want. Mrs. 
Slinsky continually "spilled tears," as she said, 
and was not happy when this melancholy pleasure 
was interrupted. What time she was not spil- 
ling them over Dinah's affliction, or Sarah's 
levity, or her husband's advancing age, or her own 
physical ailments, she was spilling them over the 
woes of the Jews in Russia. Eleanor made one 
or two attempts to cheer Mrs. Slinsky up; 
then concluded that to be cheerful was the least 
of Mrs. Slinsky's desires. So her efforts nar- 
rowed to Dinah and Sarah ; but they were enough 
to keep her very busy. 

Meanwhile, the wedding which Hart Ferris 
thought was "as good as planned" when he found 



JUST FOLKS 1 57 

Adam Spear, gave Beth — and, through her, 
Ferris — several months of anxiety before it came 
to pass. 

"I never saw such a coy pair !" Beth declared 
impatiently, to Ferris, one evening in October. 
"He comes, every night of the world, and 'sets' 
on his side of the table, and reads The News to 
Liza while she sews. And they argue ! Well — 
I guess you know ! you've heard them at it. 
Seems to be their chief aim to find something to 
fall out about. Last night it was about the 
infelicities of the poor lady who is trying to ex- 
tract a measly $125,000 a year alimony from her 
multi-millionaire husband. They were discussing 
her expenditures, as set forth in the day's pro- 
ceedings of the divorce case. Liza opined that 
the lady was 'a upstart,' but Adam inclined 
to think that if her husband's income was a mil- 
lion dollars a year, the share she asked for was 
very modest. Liza was particularly severe about 
the lady's dressmaking bills, as set forth in the 
papers. 'A woman don't need to spend no such 
sums on her clothes to look nice,' was Liza's 
dictum. Adam took the lady's part — which 
made Liza mad. She said he ' hadn't no jedg- 
ment.' And when Adam saw how mad she was, 
he seemed to think it was a jealous rage — which 
so complimented him that he went on, trying to 
augment it. 

When a woman's fascinatm 9 , 9 he said, 'I 



Cif 



158 JUST FOLKS 

b'leeve she ought t' be allowed t' go's fur's she 
kin. 'Tain't so durn many fascinatin' women 
in this world but what they ought t' be encour- 
aged.' 

"'How d'ye know she's fascinatin'?' Liza 
retorted sharply. 

"'Well, she's a actress — an' they mostly air,' 
said Adam, wisely. 

"'Much you know about 'em !' snapped Liza. 

"Then Adam lifted one rheumaticky foot off 
the floor and laboriously crossed his legs in a 
fashion intended to be jaunty, while he assumed 
a mysterious air and answered, 'Oh, I dunno ! I 
guess most men that's been around a good deal 
has had their own experience with actresses — 
they're real companionable ladies.'" 

Ferris laughed long and loud. "The old 
divvil !" he said. "Fancy the 'actresses' he 
could have met !" 

"Probably mended the trunk-lock of a circus- 
ridin' lady, once upon a time," commented Beth 
sharply, "but he had a manner like what a friend 
of mine calls 'a sure-enough gay Ontario.'" 

"Was Liza disturbed ?" 

" She was charmed — but she wouldn't show 
it for worlds, of course. That's just it ! She's as 
'interred' in Adam and as anxious to marry 
him, as she can be ! But she won't admit it. And 
he's — well, I don't know about Adam, but I 
guess he's pretty willing to bring his rheumaticks 



JUST FOLKS 1 59 

and settle in a permanent seat of authority beside 
Liza's stove — but he wants her to feel that it's 
an awful responsibility for a 'gay Ontario' like 
him to undertake the sober state of matrimony. 
And there they are ! Sometimes I don't believe 
they'll ever get married !" 

Beth's tone was so maternally anxious that 
Ferris was convulsed. "The concern those giddy 
young lovers give you is delicious," he said. 

Beth smiled. "Does seem as if I had to deal 
a lot with romance in my 'day's work,' doesn't 
it?" she said. " But I suppose I'm only finding 
out what a part it plays in 'life as it comes to all.' 
I was over at Mary Casey's to-day and found Pa 
has been acting unusually bad, even for him. 
I'm afraid Angela Ann won't stand it at home 
much longer, unless things get better — and I 
told Mary so." 

" ' I know,' she said. ' I'm t'inkin' that mesilf , 
an' it do worry me mos' t' death. But what kin 
I do ? Whin he git so bad I t'ink I kin stan' no 
more from him, I haven' no more'n made up my 
min' t' l'ave 'im, than he do turn aroun' an' be 
that foine, he's like the Lord Mayor o' London ! 
Sure, it do kape a woman all bewildered-like.' 
She's right, I guess ; first and last, the tender 
passion do 'kape a woman all bewildered-like,' 
and I'm begining to think we must love the 
bewilderment — we begin to seek it so early, and 
cling to it so late. I guess it's what spices life to 



i6o JUST FOLKS 

a woman, — clear to the edge of the grave 
— yes, and what makes her keen about the 
Beyond." 

In late October, Adam drew his pension; 
and with this lordly sum tied in an emptied to- 
bacco-bag, he inaugurated that brilliant, inspired 
campaign which brought his forty-five years' 
siege of Liza to a close. He disappeared. 

For two evenings his place by the stoveward 
side of Liza's table with the red-and- white checked 
table-cloth, was vacant; and Liza "let on like" 
she didn't note the difference. Then her stoicism 
failed. 

"I reckon," she said to Ferris, "you better 
see if you can't find out where that old fool has 
gone." 

"That I might possibly have anything else to 
do," said Ferris to Beth, "seems never to have 
entered Liza's head." 

"You might forgive her for that," Beth told 
him, "when you reflect how neither does it seem 
to have entered her head that you can't go 
straight and find him if you choose." 

" Instead of which, I haven't the remotest idea 
where to look for the old doddeky !" 

"Where would a 'fool critter' like Adam go 
when he got his pension ? " 

"On a 'bust,' I suppose — but, heavens! 
there are quite some places in Chicago where 



JUST FOLKS 161 

they are adept in separating fools from their 
money ; and I can't search 'em all ! " 

The next evening, Ferris being busy hunting 
Adam, and Liza "havin' a fittin'," Beth went 
over to Henry Street for a brief call on the 
Caseys. There she told about Adam's disap- 
pearance and Liza's anxiety. 

"Whin a man have got money in his pockets," 
observed Pa, with an experienced air, "he's 
more like t' be spindin' it on some young skirt 
than savin' it up fer an oF wan." 

"That's just what he's doing — beyond a 
doubt!" said Beth, severely. "But for Liza's 
sake, I wish I knew where he's doing it ! " 

"He'll come home whin 'tis all gon'," consoled 
Pa — who knew ! 

"Much comfort that be to a woman — the 
poor t'ing !" cried Mary, with hot sympathy. 

"Theer's two kin's o' women," said Pa, puffing 
his pipe and looking most oracular. "Theer's 
thim that min spind theer money on, an' theer's 
thim that they go back to whin the money's gon'. 
If yer wan kin' o' woman, ye can't be the other, 
an' ye might's well make the hist of it !" 

"Every good woman would rather be the kind 
the men come back to !" said Beth, quickly — 
thinking of Mary's comfort for the past, and of 
Angela's outlook for the future. 

Pa leered unbelievingly. "I guess they all 



M 



162 JUST FOLKS 

do what they kin !" he said. "An' thim that 
fails as fascinators, they turn good." 

"That's a fine way for you to talk before your 
wife — before Angela ! " cried Beth, hotly. 

Pa shrugged — and retired from the con- 
versation. But when Beth got up to go, Angela 
went with her, "a piece." 

"I seen that old Adam Spear," she said, when 
they were safely out of the family earshot. 

"You did! Where?" 

Angela hesitated. "I was out last evening" 
she said, "wid a fella — " 

"With what 'fella'?" 

"A fella that's awful struck on me — I met 
him up t' the Greek's — " 

"Angela!" 

"I ain' goin' t' take no clo'es off'n him," 
Angela hastened to explain, "but — you heard 
what Pa said ! I ain' goin' t' do no wrong, but I 
got t' have some fun, an' I'll l'ave 'em spind theer 
money on me if they want to." 

Beth made a mental note of this confidential 
outburst for immediate action the minute she 
got Liza's difficulties settled. 

"Where did you see Adam Spear?" she 
questioned, seeming to ignore Angela's intentions. 

"On Madison Street, in a — in a palm garden." 

"Angela!" 

" I didn' drink nothin'. It was wan o' thim that 
has a vaudeville show, an' I was on'y lookin'. 



JUST FOLKS 163 

Now, if you go an tell ma, I'm goin' t' run away. 
But if you don't, I'll tell you wheer it was. 
He had a girl wid him an' was buyin' beers fer her. 
Mebbe he might be theer agin." 

"Will you go there now and show me the 
place?" ' 

Yes, Angela would. So they went to Maxwell 
Street and got Liza, who was crying softly 
over her sewing when they went in. 

"The durned ol' fool !" she said, wiping her 
eyes on her apron, when Beth told her. 

Angela "showed the place," and Liza went in 
alone. No, she hadn't "never been in no palm 
garden before, but that didn't matter none" — 
if Adam Spear was there, she'd find him, and if 
he wasn't, she didn't " fear no other fella's 
grabbin'" her. 

Beth and Angela waited outside — walking 
up and down, a little distance away, so as not 
to attract attention. In a few minutes they saw 
Liza come out — with Adam, holding on to him 
with a determined clutch. 

"Let's go home a different way," said Beth; 
"they won't miss us." 

Two evenings later, Adam was permanently 
installed by Liza's stove, and had so far recovered 
from the sheepishness immediately succeeding 
his capture, as to be a bit swaggering about his 
adventure — to Liza's unconcealed delight ! 



X 



In the Casey kitchen, shrouded in the gloom 
of a late November afternoon, Midget and Mollie 
Casey were " playin' school " with Rachel and 
Rosie Rubovitz. It had been a sodden, rainy 
day, and the air was full of chill dampness. On 
the kitchen floor, and scarcely distinguishable 
from it in color, rolled Abey Rubovitz, hero of 
the pure-milk crusade ; and about him, in a nice, 
anxious, motherly way, toddled wee Annie Casey, 
"mindin'" him with all the superiority of her 
two and a half years. 

One lid of the big cook-stove was off, and from 
the hole protruded a long piece of rotten sidewalk 
plank, evidently acquired by Johnny from some 
place where a new wooden walk was being laid, 
and as evidently not chopped by Johnny into 
stove-lengths, as directed by his ma. In her 
mother's absence, Midget had replenished the 
fire with this stick, which she could neither break 
nor poke into the stove, and it stuck out, 
smoldering and giving forth a depressing odor. 

The school was not going well. Mollie was 
"bein' teacher," and the Rubovitzes declared 
she gave Midget the littlest and easiest words 

164 



JUST FOLKS 165 

and sums, to keep her at the head of the class — 
which, truth to tell, was a novel place for Midget. 
Protest against Mollie's despotic rule having 
failed, the Rubovitzes took another tack. 

"Id's cold by your house," said Rachel, 
looking scornfully at the smoldering sidewalk. 

"I bet yourn's colder," answered Mollie 
with chill dignity, going to the stove and trying in 
vain to poke the plank in far enough to admit 
of the lid's going on. 

"It aind't, iss it, Rachel?" Rosie chimed 
in shrilly. "Ve got two stoves goin' !" 

"I niver seen 'em," said Mollie, tauntingly. 

"Ve joost a new von fer our frondt room got," 
cried Rachel, waxing in her excitement more 
Yiddish than usual. 

Mollie and Midget looked at each other. 
There was sad, shamed silence for a second, but 
for a second only. Then, "We're goin' t' git 
wan fer our front room, too," said Mollie, bravely. 

"Ah, you ain' got no furn'ture by your frondt 
room," reminded Rosie. 

"But we're fixin' t' git it — better'n yourn, 
too," answered Midget, coming to Mollie's 
rescue. 

Rachel and Rosie didn't take any stock in what 
the Caseys were "fixin"' to do; the Caseys were 
always and always "fixin"' to do something and 
never doing it. But children think less of that 
than do other people ; for are not they them- 



166 JUST FOLKS 

selves always doing the same ? So Rachel's 
retort passed this point by. "Anyway," she 
said, "ve am' got no brudder by de bad boys' 
vorkhouse, like you got ! An' my pa an' my 
ma says, s'posin' our Herman was like your 
Mikey, dey vould vish to be dead first." 

"Our Mikey's all right, an' you can just l'ave 
'im be!" cried Mollie, angrily. "We'd ruther 
have 'im be in de bean house than have him be 
a Sheeny ! " 

"Sure we would !" echoed Midget, dutifully. 

"Rachel," saidRosie, "ve should to go home." 

"G'wan !" jeered Mollie, "that's like a Sheeny. 
Irish'd stay an' fight." 

"Micks is cheap fightin' peoples, an' you got 
nodding ! Jewss is fer peace und gettin' along. 
Come, Rosie." And snatching the astonished 
Abey off the floor, she took her leave, slamming 
the door behind her. 

"I'll pay thim fer that — fer what they said 
about our Mikey," declared Mollie, ready to 
cry with rage. 

"Ah," comforted Midget, philosophically, "wot 
do we care wot Sheenies say ? What I'm carin' 
'bout is, will Aunt Maggie lind Ma a half a dollar 
to buy us some supper wid ? Here she come 
now," she finished, as footsteps were heard out- 
side the back door. But an instant later a loud 
knock on the door startled them both. 

Mollie went to the door and opened it. When 



JUST FOLKS 167 

she saw who was there, an expression of frank 
disgust came over her shrewd little face. "Ma 
ain't to home," she said, without waiting for the 
man to speak. 

The man viewed Mollie with no more favor 
than she eyed him with. "Well," he said inso- 
lently, " I ain't callin' on yer ma ! Didn' she 
leave no money fer the stove ?" 

Mollie, who was holding the door only partly 
open and standing staunchly in the breach, cast 
one anxious look behind her as if to measure the 
chances of the stove's "bein' took" against her 
protest. "No," she said, " she didn'." 

There was nothing apologetic in Mollie's tone 
or manner; rather was it resentful. The stove 
man was mad. "You haven' paid in three 
weeks," he said sharply, "an' my instructions is 
to git paymint to-day er git the stove." 

Midget began to cry. "Shut up, you!" 
Mollie ordered, looking at her scathingly. Then 
she turned again to the man. "How kin we pay 
wot we ain't got ?" she demanded of him. 

"That's no business o' mine," he retorted. 
"My instructions is t' git — " 

"You said it wanst, an' wanst is enough," 
Mollie interrupted impudently. 

"Mollie, don't sass 'im!" pleaded Midget, 
tugging fearfully at her belligerent sister's elbow. 

The collector for a Blue Island Avenue 
emporium that sold furniture and stoves "be aisy 



168 JUST FOLKS 

paymints" had had a hard day; everywhere 
he went, tramping from back door to back door, 
up and down steep, dirty stairs, he had met 
with the same story — no work, no money. 
Some had entreated him ; some had abused him. 
He was callous to both kinds of treatment, 
but he was not callous to what the boss would 
say when he got back to the store. He didn't 
believe all these people were as poor as they said 
they were. He believed they were lying to him. 
But lying to his boss wouldn't do him any good. 
He'd lose his job — that's what! "I bet," 
he charged angrily, "you got money in the 
house an' won't pay it !" 

"We ain't," shrilled Mollie. 

"Ixcipt th' insur'nce," put in Midget. 

The collector knew all about the burial insur- 
ance of the poor — had, in fact, once been a 
collector of that, and often wished now that he 
was back at it ; for the poor folk would pay their 
insurance money if they could pay anything at 
all, even if they had to starve to do it. "I told 
ye!" he cried, when Midget mentioned the 
insurance. 

But Mollie's scorn knew no bounds. "I bet 
you'd take the buryin' money off of us," she al- 
most sobbed, "an' l'ave us be buried be the 
county — " 

"You ain't needin' no fun'ral, that I kin see," 
the man answered unfeelingly. "An' 'twon't do 



JUST FOLKS 169 

you no good to have a fun'ral that you don' need 
an' lose a stove that you do need. You better 
gi' me them nickels you got laid by, an' mebbe 
when I show 'em to the boss he'll leave you go 
another week before he takes the stove. Come, 
now, are you goin' t' give 'em to me, or ain't 
you ?" 

"We ain't !" said Mollie, promptly. 

"Then you kin tell yerma that I'll call to-morrer 
fer the las' time." 

"To-morrer's Sunday," ventured Midget, catch- 
ing gratefully at that saving straw. 

"Well, then, Monday; an' if she don't pay 
then, I'll have the men here in an hour to take 
the stove." And with that he *was gone, into 
the black November murk of the oozy yard 
and the narrow passageway. 

Mollie made a saucy face after him when 
the door had closed, but it was the merest 
bravado; her poor little mouth was trembling 
pitifully at the corners. "I wish Ma'd come," 
she said forlornly, poking again at the smoldering 
sidewalk. 

It was very black in the kitchen now, and 
Mollie felt her way to the sink and reached up 
for the lamp on the iron bracket. She struck a 
match, but the wick wouldn't light; she shook 
the glass lamp. "This's impty!" she said. 
"Git the oil-can, Midget." 

Midget fetched the oil-can from the closet, 



i 7 o JUST FOLKS 

shaking it as she came. "Not a drop," she said 
forlornly. 

So Mollie lighted matches and hunted till she 
found a bit of candle; she had just set this, 
feebly flickering, on the kitchen table, when the 
back door opened and Dewey came in. Dewey 
had been christened William Francis, but re- 
christened, in deference to his warlike proclivi- 
ties, after the hero of Manila Bay. In the dim 
light, the other children could see something 
with him and, knowing Dewey of old, Mollie 
promptly asked, "Whose dog?" 

"Mine," said Dewey, with a fine proprietary 
air. 

"Wait till Pa see 'im !" reminded Mollie. 

Dewey bridled. "I s'pose ye kin hardly 
wait ! " he charged. 

"I bet the dog'll l'ave of 'is own will when he 
see what kind of a place ye've brought 'im to," 
tittered Midget. 

Dewey looked at the candle and at the side- 
walk in the stove. "Wheer's Ma ?" he said. 

"Gon' t' Aunt Maggie's t' see won' she lind 'er 
a half a dollar fer some supper," Mollie told him. 

"I bet she don't," opined Dewey, bitterly. 

"I bet she don't neither," agreed Mollie. 

And just then the door opened and Mary 
Casey came in. Four pairs of childish eyes 
turned to her in eager questioning. It was use- 
less to ask, but a feeble little question slipped 



JUST FOLKS 171 

almost unaware from Midget. "Wouldn' she 
lind ye nothin' ?" she asked. 

Mary was hanging up her shawl and "fas- 
cinator" on a hook near the door. "No," she 
said, and the children wondered to see her so 
dispirited. Mollie and Midget dreaded to tell 
her about the stove man. 

"Was annybody here?" Mary Casey asked; 
she had gone at once to the fire and was over- 
hauling it from its foundations. 

Mollie looked at Midget and Midget looked 
at Mollie. "The Rubovitzes was here," said 
Midget. Then, by divine intuition, Mollie 
added, "They made shame o' our Mikey — " 

Mary Casey straightened up ; her eyes flashed ; 
dejection had gone in a twinkling before righteous 
ire. "Thim Sheenies !" she said wrathfully. 
"If thim little divils comes in here anny more, 
I'm goin' t' t'row water on thim — an' if I do, 
it'll be the first that iver r'ached thim, I'll bet !" 

The children giggled. They enjoyed the thrust 
at the Rubovitzes, and they were relieved at their 
mother's return to her normal mood; they 
weren't used to her despondent. 

When she had got the fire burning, Mary set 
on a saucepan half full of water, and went into 
the pantry and brought out a paper sack that 
was nearly empty; in it were about two cup- 
fuls of yellow corn meal. 

"Oh, Ma!" wailed the children in chorus. 



172 JUST. FOLKS 

They hated corn-meal mush at any time, but 
they hated it for supper most of all. 

"Well," she answered them patiently, "what 
kin I do ? Unless we wait an' see will Ang'la 
Ann git home pritty soon an' bring her wages ? 
But she may be havin' t' work late to-night — " 

It was Mollie who was struck by a bright 
idea. "I know, Ma," she said. "L'ave us 
take the insur'nce money ! He won' come fer it 
no more to-night, an' ye kin pay it back whin 
Ang'la Ann come home." 

"Sure," cried Mary, brightening, "I niver 
t'ought o' that. Ye've the gran' hid on ye, 
Mollie Casey — ye take after yer pa." 

She carried the despised and rejected meal 
back into the pantry, and down from a high 
shelf she brought a handleless, noseless pitcher. 
"Thirty-five cints," she said, counting out the 
nickels. "Git a little oil — " 

"An' a jelly roll !" cried Dewey. 

"An' a lemon pie !" begged Midget. 

"An' some fried eggs! An' some bologny!" 
Mollie entreated. 

Mary smiled. "Thim nickels is not rubber" 
she said; "they won' stretch over no lemon 
pies an' fried eggs. But ye kin buy a jelly roll 
— git yisterday's, fer half price — an' some pita- 
ties, an' two loaves o' bread fer a nickel — " 

"Oh," Mollie begged, "can't we git it frish — 
jus' this wanst ?" 



JUST FOLKS 173 

Mary considered. " If ye do, ye won' have 
enough fer bologny," she said. " Well, away 
wid ye, an' do the bist ye kin." 

Happy, excited, arguing, the children started ; 
but at the door Midget hung back, and when 
the other two had gone out, she closed the door 
after them and stood with her back against it, 
looking at her mother with distress in her big, 
dark eyes. 

"What ails ye, child ?" asked Mary. 

Midget hesitated a moment. Then, "The 
man was here t' c'lect fer the stove," she said, 
"an' he's goin' t' take it off of us Monday unless 
we pay." And, with that, she opened the door 
quickly and went out after the others. 

When Midget was gone, her mother stood 
staring into the gloom of the kitchen. On her 
face was an expression that Midget would not 
have understood. Darkness and cold and hun- 
ger were familiar to Mary Casey; familiar to 
her, too, was the threat of being "set out" for 
non-payment of rent and having her "things 
took" for failure to meet payments which, 
somehow, were never "aisy" except in her buoy- 
ant mind at the exciting time of the purchase. 
She seldom gave way before any of these things ; 
but to-night — 

Her attention was attracted by wee Annie 
climbing toward the candle on the kitchen 



174 JUST FOLKS 

table. "No, no, darlin' !" she said, and caught 
the little thing up in her arms and held her 
tight. "No, no!" repeated Mary, crooningly. 
With the child hugged to her breast, she sat 
down close by the threatened stove, where now 
the damp sidewalk was burning — smoking miser- 
ably, it is true, but giving out a little heat. 
Annie was cold, and the warmth of her mother's 
embrace was grateful, so she lay quiet. And 
presently something dropped on Annie's face — 
something warm and wet. Baby as she was, 
Annie knew; the first thing in this world we 
know is tears. She put up a little hand and 
touched her mother's rough cheek. "Pitty, 
pitty," she said; "nice, nice." Mary caught 
up the caressing baby hand and covered it with 
kisses. "Nobody know what ye mane t' yer 
ma," she whispered to the baby; "no wan — 
not avin thim that's been mothers thimsilves, 
it seem." 

The back door opened, and for an instant a 
man stood framed in the doorway; then he 
came inside and closed the door. 

"What's the matter wid the light ?" he said. 
He seemed cross at finding his home so dark. 

"We've no oil," his wife replied. 

Pa hung his hat on a peg by the door, took 
off his coat and shoes, and drew up a chair pre- 
paratory to putting his feet in the oven. "I'm 
goin' t' move out o' this shanty," he said in 



JUST FOLKS 175 

a disgusted tone, "an' git wan wheer there's 
gas. 

"'Twould be all the same," his wife rejoined 
wearily; "the gas'd niver be paid — we'd al- 
ways be gittin' it took off of us." 

Pa said nothing. "Git anny work to-day ?" 
Mary asked him presently. 

"No, but a man's after tellin' me of a gran' 
job I kin get on Monda'." 

"Monda'!" cried Mary, bitterly. "To-mor- 
rer ! It's been to-morrer, or Monda' or nixt 
wake, fer twinty years !" 

"Stone-cuttin'," observed Pa, gravely, "have 
been a bad trade fer twinty years. What wid 
this here new-fangled cimint, art' wid bosses im- 
ployin' scabs (which I c'd niver be, though I'd 
staarve !), 'tis a bad trade fer anny man." 

Mary had been hearing this arraignment of 
the stone-cutting industry for twenty years. 
"Theer ain' no law," she said now, "compellin' 
ye t' cut stone er do nothin'." 

Pa's tone as he replied was full of severity. 
" Stone-cuttin's me trade," he said with dignity, 
"an' I ain' got no caard to no other trade. 
You'd have me work at some trade I ain' got 
no caard to, I suppose ? Well, I'll not- be a 
darty scab fer anny wan ! I got better pride 
ner that ! 'Tis agin my princ'ples." 

"Pride ?" echoed Mary, scornfully. "Seems 
a quare pride whin a man can't support his 



176 JUST FOLKS 

fam'ly because he's proud — has t' l'ave thim 
take charity because he's so proud — has t' sind 
his childern t' work the minute they kin lie t' 
the law about their ages (an' git quare in the 
hid, like poor Mikey, gittin' th' paint-poisonin' 
in that wall-paper place whin he was elivin') 
because he 've such gran' princ'ples. Seem like 
a quare pride in a man that'll l'ave his wife go 
to her rilatives t' beg the loan of a half a dollar 
to buy supper fer his kids, an' not git it because 
her folks say they're tired o' feedin' her loafer! 
Quare pride in a man, I call that !" 

Pa took this arraignment with a gentle resig- 
nation. "'Tain't in Maggie ner Pete Kavanagh 
t' understan' me an' my princ'ples," he said. 
"No, ner in you, nayther, I'm thinkin'. But 
I'm not su'prised. Min wid princ'ples has niver 
been understood by theer f am'lies — ner by the 
world. The world have always gone haard wid 
the best min — have always driven thim t' 
drink wid its onfeelin'ness." 

"If ye're a sample o' thim, it was aisy drivin', 
I bet," was his wife's retort. 

Pa smiled good-naturedly at this reference to 
his "failin'." "I wish some wan'd drive me up 
to a couple o' hot drinks right now," he said. 
"I'm that cold, I'm all rheumaticky." 

"Ye'll be colder nixt wake," she hastened to 
tell him. "The man was here to-day t' take 
the stove — it's goin' Monda'." 



JUST FOLKS 177 

"Tis nothin' of the sort," assured Pa, grandly. 
"Nixt wake I'm goin' t' pay the whole balance 
on the stove an' see 'bout gittin' wan for the 
parlie." And his tone was so confident, his 
manner so inspiring that, as he went on and on, 
unfolding to Mary what he meant to do "nixt 
wake," she fell once more into the easy hope- 
fulness that had sustained her for twenty years. 
Providence develops in each of its creatures, 
great and small, those qualities that they most 
need to keep them alive; and in Mary Casey, 
Providence had developed hope and patience — 
perhaps they are the same thing ! Under the 
"hope-begettingness" of Pa's talk, Mary gradu- 
ally lost her irony, and by andby, holding the 
sleeping child in her lap, she opened her heart 
to Pa about the tears that had been wee Annie's 
lullaby. 

"I was to see Maggie to-day," she said, "an' 
she's tur'ble put out wid me, 'count o' the — 
the new wan. She wouldn' lind me no money 
t' buy supper, not avin whin I promised her I'd 
pay it back out o' Ang'la Ann's wages to-morrer. 
An' after I was theer, I wint over t' the charity 
place wheer they've helped us sometimes, t' see 
could the young lady that's there maybe help 
me t' git a few little clo'es. An' she says, 'I 
mus' say, Mrs. Casey,' she says, 'it's very dis- 
couragin'. You wid all the trouble you got — 
not able t' kape the sivin childern you got from 



178 JUST FOLKS 

starvin', an' a new wan comin' — I mus' say it's 
very discouragin'.' I dunno if she'll try t' do 
annythin' fer me — she seemed tur'ble provoked. 
Seem like everybody do be blamin' me, an' I'm 
sure whin I t'ink o' what it's comin' to, I ought 
t' be weepin' tears o' sorrer fer the poor little 
t'ing. But I got that foolish mother heart in 
me that kape -singin' wid joy t' think how lovely 
it'll be to have a new wan to cuddle an' set store 
by. This'll be the tinth time I've known the 
feel o' thim little searchin' han's on me brist, 
but seems like I niver looked for'ard no more'n I 
do now to the t'rill of it. I don' git manny 
t'rills in my life — seems kind o' hard folks that 
has none o' the pains to bear should grudge me 
that wan!" 

Pa was indignant. "I'll have none o' theer 
baby clo'es !" he cried, "an' none o' Maggie 
Kavanagh's adwice ! I intind t' raise this new 
wan mesilf. I ain' got a child yit that suit me, 
but I'm goin' t' take a han' airly wid this new 
wan an' git him started right." 

Mary ignored the implied fault with her train- 
ing. The candle light was very dim, and in it 
the grime and stubble on Pa's face showed 
hardly at all ; and his voice had the same Irish 
sweetness it had had years before when Pa was 
not yet Pa, and had come to court her in her 
fine, comfortable home where she was "workin' 
out" — to woo her away with his soft words, 



JUST FOLKS 179 

and the look in his big blue eyes, and the dimples 
that played round his mouth when he smiled ; 
with his glowing word-pictures of the "little 
home" he was going to make for her; with his 
blushing hints about the children that might 
some day be theirs ; with the awkward caresses 
of his big stone-cutter's hands. She had gone 
gladly, full of sweet, fluttering hopes — gone 
from her comfortable "place" to a home that 
was little, indeed, and that grew more and more 
squalid as each year went over their heads. 
And she had never been sorry for going — not 
even in the blackest hours of her children's 
want and her husband's insufficiency. Always 
something kept her from looking back regretfully 
— always something kept her expectant. Per- 
haps it was the memory — and the hope — of 
those tiny baby hands searching, groping toward 
her breast. Perhaps it was the memory — and 
the hope — of times like this, when her winsome 
Irish lad came back to her for a few tender 
moments. . . . She heard the footsteps of the 
returning children coming along the board walk, 
and as she rose to lay baby Annie on the bed, 
she stooped over and kissed Pa and whispered, 
" Ye're glad fer the new wan — ain't you, Patsy, 
b'y?" 

"I am that," he answered her, holding her 
cheek for a moment close to his own, "an' I'm 
goin' t' do fine by 'im." 



i8o JUST FOLKS 

Then the door opened and the three children 
came trooping noisily in. They dumped their 
purchases on the table and began tearing open 
the packages. Mary took up the oil-can and 
was about to fill the lamp, when her glance fell 
on something Mollie was leading by a string. 
"Fer the love o' Hiven, what's that?" cried 
Mary. 

Pridefully Mollie responded, "'Tis a hin." 

"Wheefd ye git it }" 

"Off a b'y in the alley, fer tin cints; he said 
'twas a fine layer, an' we t'ought it'd be gran' 
t' have frish iggs iv'ry day." 

Mary was dubious, but she hadn't the heart 
to cloud the children's hopefulness. "Well, I 
dunno," she said, "but ye kin try. What'd ye 
give up t' git it — the jelly roll ?" 

"No — the pitaties." 

Mary laughed. " Fer the love of !" she cried ; 
"ye can't live on bologny an' jelly roll an' a hin 
behint the stove." 

"Well," said Mollie, with cheerful resignation, 
"we couldn' fin' that boy now no more, an' git 
the dime back." 

"All right — I don' keer; ye kin tie up yer 
hin an' see what'll she do t' take the place o' 
pitaties." 

It was while Mollie was tethering her sorry- 
looking fowl to a stove leg that Pa first noticed 
Dewey's dog. "Another dog ?" he said. "D'ye 



JUST FOLKS 181 

ixpict him t' lay too ? Didn' I tell you I'm 
tired o' supportin' dogs ? Maybe ye'll tell me 
ye bought him fer sausage ?" 

Pa's tone was scathing, and, fearing harm to 
his pup, Dewey decided to offer him the cold 
hospitality of the back yard. "Here, Togo, 
Togo," he called sullenly. 

"What's that?" cried Pa. "Togo? Togo? 
I'll have no dog in my house called Togo ! Thim 
Jappynase is haythins — they belave nothin' at 
all." 

"The Roosians is Sheenies," retorted Dewey, 
who waged a perennial war with the "Roosians" 
in the street and at school. 

"Yer an ignyrammus !" said Pa. "The rale 
Roosians is Cath'lics, same's yersilf. These here 
Roosians on Hinry Strate was drove out o' 
Rossia fer beiri* Sheenies — same's they ought t' 
be drove out o' iv'ry place." 

"Well," muttered Dewey, "I can't call 'im 
no Roosian name, because I can't pernounce 
none of 'em." 

"You can't, can't you ?" Pa thundered 
wrathfully. "Very well, thin — ye kin call him 
an Amurican name, I guess. Jarge Washin'ton's 
a good enough name fer anny dog, I guess." 

"Theer, theer," said Mary, pacifically, cutting 
off a piece of bologna, "you take Jarge Wash- 
in'ton an' kape out o' the way a bit till yer Pa's 
ofHnded princ'ples kin raycover." 



182 JUST FOLKS 

Dewey took the sausage and was making for 
the door with "Jarge" when there came a rap 
upon it. 

"Come in !" said Pa. And the visitor came 
in. He was a small, withered-looking, oldish 
man ; his skin had a curious parchment look 
and was almost the shade of his clay-color 
derby. He wore a brown plaid suit and a crim- 
son crochet tie, and carried a book agent's port- 
folio. The little man's movements were brisk, 
his manner was breezy. 

"Good evening," he said as he came in, 
"good evening. Have I," bowing to Pa, "the 
honor to address Mr. Casey ?" 

Pa admitted that he had. "Won't ye come 
in ?" he invited, and set a chair. 

"Thank you, sir — thank you ; I will ! And 
is this your fine little family, Mr. Casey ?" 

"Part of 'em," said Pa ; "the rist's not home 
yit." 

"Well," said the agent, "I'm sure it's a family 
for any man to be proud of." 

Pa shrugged. "Theer well enough, but theer's 
none o' thim as smart as I hoped they would be." 

"Ah !" cried the little agent, eagerly, "that's 
the proud, ambitious father, Mr. Casey. You 
aspire so high for them, it's hard for them to 
reach your fond expectations. That's just pre- 
cisely why I called, Mr. Casey — just pre-cisely 
why I called. I know it's a little late for a busi- 



JUST FOLKS 183 

ness call, but I always like to catch the gentle- 
man of the house when he's at home for supper. 
One of your children, Mr. Casey — this one, I 
think," laying his hand on Dewey's shoulder, 
"sent a postal to the publisher of our glorious 
paper, the Daily Mercury, answering an adver- 
tisement which said : ' Send a postal, and get a 
book telling you how to obtain a grand educa- 
tion—'" 

"That ain' what it said !" objected Dewey. 
"It had a pitcher of battle ships blowin' up, an' 
it said, 'Sind a postal an' git a book tellin' all 
about the Jappynase war.'" 

"So it did !" chirped the agent, "so it did ! 
I remember ! One of the ads read just that way. 
Well, your fine boy, Mr. Casey, sent a postal, 
and our publisher says to me, says he: 'You'd 
better see that Mr. Casey and tell him about 
our wonderful offer. He's evidently a smart 
man, or he wouldn't have a boy like that.' You 
see, Mr. Casey, we have a new Grand Universal 
Cyclopaedia of World Knowledge, in twenty- 
seven volumes, giving complete, accurate, au- 
thoritative, up-to-date information on twenty- 
three thousand subjects. Think of it ! Suppose 
you send your boy to a university, Mr. Casey. 
What does he get ? At the most, four studies a 
year — sixteen studies in a four-years' course — 
at the cost of hundreds of dollars — yes, thou- 
sands ! Now, for fifty cents down, and fifty 



184 JUST FOLKS 

cents a week for one little year — think of it ! 

— we will give him an education in twenty-three 
thousand subjects !" 

There was no mistaking the eager interest in 
Pa's face, and the agent took out his fountain- 
pen — for the joy of writing with which in the 
presence of his awe-struck family Pa would, had 
the agent but known it, have signed any paper 
that could have been presented to him. Pa 
reached for the pen, but Mary tugged at his 
elbow and whispered in his ear. Nodding to her 
to reassure her, Pa said to the agent, "Would 
it be convanyant t' git the first paymint on 
Monda', sir?" 

"Certainly, Mr. Casey — most certainly." 
Pa looked at Mary as if to shame her for her 
doubts, and began the laborious business of 
signing his name. 

"There !" said the agent, when Pa's cramped 
fingers laid the pen carefully down again, "I 
hope these little ones appreciate what you have 
done for them ! On Monday, Mr. Casey, the 
twenty-seven volumes become yours and your 
heirs' forever. Henceforth you have but to turn 
to them to learn all you wish to know about, — er 

— astronomy, Mr. Casey — about — er — geology 

— or theology — or about any one of twenty- 
three thousand subjects. Good evening to you 
all — delighted to have met you. I expect to 
hear of a future President Casey, rising to the 



JUST FOLKS 185 

highest office in the gift of the American people 
by his diligent perusal of the Great Univer- 
sal Cyclopaedia of World Knowledge. Good 
evening." 

At mention of that future President, Pa shot 
a proud look at Mary, as if to see if she com- 
prehended what he was doing for the New One. 
And after the agent was gone he laid down the 
law to his family. By that time Johnny had 
come in, and Pa addressed himself to Johnny 
and Dewey, ignoring the girls, for whom he felt 
an "ixpinsive" education to be unnecessary. 
"Now," he said, "ye heard what th' agint said 
about th' Prisident. I niver see annythin' in 
ayther o' ye, much less in Mikey, that looked t 1 
me like a buddin' Prisident ; but I'm after buyin' 
this here ixpensive education in the hopes that 
some day I may git a son that'll be like me, wid 
ambition t' have th' bist or none at all. Mane- 
while, though, you two can be learnin' off it. 
Soon's it git here, you, Johnny, will begin at 
wolume wan, page wan, an' l'arn ye a page 
iv'ry night, an' Dewey'll do the same — " 

"It'll take about t'ree years to a wolume," 
said Johnny, who was pretty good at figures. 

"An' I'll prob'bly die widout knowin' the 
ind!" wailed Dewey; "I'll niver git past Pay 
an'Q!" 

Pa's look of scorn was scathing. "O' course 
ye can't l'arn iv'rything!" he said. "Who'd 



186 JUST FOLKS 

wish t' live wid ye if ye did? I don't know 
iv'rything mesilf ! But if you Tarn up to Pay 
an' Q time you die, ye'll be no slouch — which 
is more'n I kin say of ye now. But t' avin t'ings 
up a bit, Johnny kin begin at A an' l'arn t' Im 
(M), an' you kin begin at Im an' l'arn t' the ind. 
Then, betwane ye, whin ye're growed, ye'll 
know it all. 'Tis the gran' princ'ple av all labor 
t' pick yer job an' stick to 't, an' not meddle 
wid no other felly's job whativer. An' in l'arnin', 
be all I hear, 'tis just the same. So 'tis you," 
to Johnny, "from A t' Im; an' Dewey from Im 
t' the ind o' the book." 

"I don't ixpict thim t' do much at it," he 
told Mary later, when he had a chance, "but 
they might's well be l'arnin' what they kin off 
of it till the new wan git so he kin rade. They've 
got a start of him," he admitted, "but I bet he 
gits caught up wid thim before they know it." 

And Mary hadn't the heart to spoil his en- 
thusiasm by suggesting that the New One might 
be a girl. 

Spurred by pride in the new Cyclopaedia, Pa 
did get work on Monday; and when he came 
home at supper time Monday night, there the 
twenty-seven volumes were, stacked upon the 
kitchen floor. 

Out of Angela Ann's wages — three dollars 
and a half — Mary had restored the insurance 



JUST FOLKS 187 

nickels, seven of them, and paid fifty cents on 
the Cyclopaedia, and with great difficulty managed 
to appease the stove collector for a few days with 
the payment of one dollar. Then there had 
been Sunday's food and a basket of coal, so that 
there was not much left, on Monday night, to 
face another week with. But when Pa came 
home and announced the "gran' job," which 
promised to be good for several weeks, the family 
spirits rose sky-high, and there was nothing to 
mar their enjoyment of the awe-inspiring new 
possession. 

As soon as the supper dishes were cleared 
away, Pa set the glass lamp back in the middle 
of the table, hunted out A for Johnny and M 
for Dewey, and set them to work. 

"Aw!" said Dewey, after a few moments of 
intense application, while his parents and sisters 
looked on admiringly, "this here's some furrin 
lang'widge." And he pointed to "Maas, an 
affluent of the Rhine," and "Maasin, a seaport 
of Leyte," and " Maassen, an Austrian jurist," 
and "Maastricht, a city of the Netherlands." 

"Well, wot d'ye t'ink o' dis ?" cried Johnny, 
inviting sympathy for himself as he struggled 
with "Aalborg, on the south shore of the Lim- 
fjord," and "Aard-vark, a burrowing, nocturnal, 
insect-eating mammal," and "Abacus, a calculat- 
ing machine, occasionally employed to make the 
elementary operations of arithmetic palpable." 



188 JUST FOLKS 

But Pa was inexorable. "Most all l'arnin' is 
in furrin tongues," he said. u Sure, anny fool 
kin know English, but 'tis t' know what thim 
quare furrin words mane that fellies goes t' 
college." 

On Saturday, when he got his week's pay, Pa 
bought a book-case, "be aisy paymints" — a 
"mahogany" book-case, smelling quite frankly 
of pine through its coats of sanguinary red 
paint, the tears of varnish trickling forlornly in 
places, as if in mortification at being so poor a 
sham. Two dollars had to go "down" for this; 
and thereafter the collector would call once in 
two weeks for a dollar more, until nine dollars 
and sixty-nine cents had been paid. 

And that night they had fried eggs and lemon 
cream pie for supper; for had not Pa earned 
twenty-four dollars that week ? 

"Ye see," he said to Johnny and Dewey, 
when they went reluctantly to their "iducation," 
"what a man kin do whin he's a scholard. 
That's why I want youse t' try an' l'arn all ye 
kin, so ye won't have t' work fer no cheap 
wages whin yer growed. Fer 'tis much better 
t' work a day now an' thin fer four dollars, ner 
t' work iv'ry day fer a dollar an' a quarter — 
like an Eyetalian. Thim cheap Guineas has 
no standin' ; but, wid me ! theer ain' no better 
trade in the country ner what stone-cuttin' is !" 

But after supper Pa went to O'Shaughnessy's 



JUST FOLKS 189 

saloon at the corner, to tell the men congregated 
there about the "iducation" he was providing 
for his boys, and before he came stumbling home 
a large hole had been made in his wages. And 
by and by, when the "iducation" got to be an 
•old story, Pa lost his zest for work, and things 
lapsed, presently, into their more habitual state 
of pinching poverty. 

Those were busy weeks for Beth ; trouble was 
rampant in the Ghetto and she seemed to have 
her hands full day and night. She was worried 
when she heard about Pa being out of work 
again and was intending to take the first oppor- 
tunity to go over to Henry Street, when word 
came to her that confirmed all her worst fears : 
"Angela Ann is gon\" 



XI 



It was Johnny who brought to Beth the news 
of Angela Ann's disappearance. He came over 
to Maxwell Street before breakfast on a Tuesday 
morning in mid-December, and asked to speak 
to Beth "private." His agitation was so evident 
that at once she scented something beyond the 
ordinary run of tragedy in the Casey family; 
and setting down the coffee-pot, she withdrew 
to the dark hall outside. 

Here Johnny told her, in scared whispers, 
that Angela Ann had not been home all night; 
that his mother was "'most crazy"; and that 
she insisted the search for Angela should be 
carried on without letting any of the neighbors 
know she was gone. 

As soon as she could swallow a cup of coffee — 
and the depth of woe communicated to Johnny 
by his mother was measurable in his refusal to 
come in out of the hall or even to take a cup of 
coffee if handed out to him there — Beth went 
to the stricken household on Henry Street. 

They were all in the kitchen, of course, and 
every face except baby Annie's was pallid with 
fright and streaked with tears. 

190 



JUST FOLKS 191 

Talking in hushed tones, so that by no chance 
might the Rubovitzes or the new Irish tenants up- 
stairs overhear, Mary told of her anxiousness as 
the evening wore on and Angela did not come ; 
of how she had tried not to worry but to assure 
herself that Angela was "workin' late"; of 
how she had sat up for her girl, after the others 
were gone to bed ; of how, as it wore on to mid- 
night and past, she had grown sicker and sicker 
with fear ; of how she had gone, time and again, 
to the corner and waited for a car to come by, 
thinking it might bring her ; and of how she had 
sat through the long, slow morning hours of 
her vigil, until the others of the household woke, 
thinking, thinking what to do. 

The first thing that could be done, Mary had 
already done ; that was to see if by any chance 
Angela Ann could have gone to her Aunt Maggie's 
to spend the night. At six o'clock Johnny had 
been dispatched thither, and presently had 
returned thence with no tidings of the lost one. 

The next thing was to visit the place of An- 
gela's employment and see if she came to work. 
If she didn't, and if no word of her came all 
day, they would have to consult again in the 
evening. 

"Ye won' lit it git in the papers, will ye?" 
Mary pleaded. "Ye'll kape thim off of her, 
won't ye ? I'm after tellin' the childern I'll 
kill the first wan o' thim that breathe t' a soul 



192 JUST FOLKS 

we don' know wheer Ang'la Ann is. Agin she 
be all right an' come home, it'd go hard wid her 
if these Sheenies 'round here knew she was 
gon'. People do belave the worst of a girl, 
always. I dunno what t' t'ink o' my Ang'la, 
but I don' want it t' go hard wid her if she 
don' desarve it." 

Beth promised about the papers and went, 
heavy-hearted, on her way. 

That was Delinquent Children's day in Court 
and Beth was busy. Cold and gloom outside, 
with only cluttered kitchens to go to inside, 
trebled the tendency of Ghetto young folk to 
misdeeds. One finds it all but impossible to 
blame human nature for not being strong in such 
conditions ; and so, the hot resentment that flames 
out against this wretchedness, directs itself 
toward the conditions and, beyond them, toward 
any sluggish ease or selfish strife that makes and 
keeps them what they are. 

Beth was up in the front of the court room, 
near the clerk's desk, listening to the defence in 
a case she had brought before the Court, when 
she saw Mary Casey's shawl-shrouded figure 
slip into a back bench and Mary's white, anguish- 
stricken face turn toward her with despairing 
negation in its look that answered Beth's look 
of questioning. 

After Court was over, Beth "walked a piece" 
with Mary, whose only opportunity to talk 



JUST FOLKS 193 

confidentially to Beth this was. Johnny's visit 
to the place where Angela worked was productive 
of "tur'ble bad" news: Angela Ann had "give 
notice" on Saturday night, had been "paid 
up," and quit. 

This made it seem less likely that she had met 
with accident or foul play, and more likely that 
she had intended to go away. Beth made no 
comment to this effect, hoping to spare Mary 
the sharper grief ; but Mary saw for herself. 

"Sure," she wept softly under her black shawl, 
as they walked west in Ewing Street, "I t'ought 
it was pritty bad whin I feared she was run over 
an' kilt er somethin' like that. But, my God ! 
a body could stan' that. If she 've wint away 
intintional — oh ! she couldn' do that, d'ye 
t'ink ? She wint out yistiday mornin' wid a 
chune on her lips, a-hummin' as gay as a bird. 
She couldn' have done that if she knew she 
were goin' t' break my heart — could she ?" 

"I don't see how she could," Beth admitted. 

"No," said Mary, drying her tears and grasp- 
ing hopefully at the idea of death rather than 
dishonor; "I don' belave she could. She must 
'a' t'ought she had a better job — poor little 
t'ing ! — an' didn' want t' tell me 'bout it till 
she was sure she had it. Fer she was rale 
happy-like on Sunda' — the first she've been 
since her Pa got out o' work an' the new wan 
comin' !" 



194 JUST FOLKS 

"Did she know?" 

"Sure! I'm after tellin' her a couple o' 
wakes back, an' at first she tuck it pritty hard ; 
but after that, seemed like she didn' mind so 
much." 

Beth hadn't the heart to tell Mary her own 
belief that Angela Ann had gone away on account 
of the New One. And just then, Mary's sister 
Maggie caught up with them on her way over 
to Mary's to ask for further news. 

Beth stayed with them only long enough to 
get Mary's decision about telling the police; 
and departed with the understanding that if 
Angela Ann did not come home to-night for 
supper, her disappearance would have to be 
reported, though with every possible entreaty 
and pressure of influence to keep it out of the 
papers. 

Angela Ann did not come home, and about 
eight o'clock Beth went over to the Maxwell 
Street Station and reported the case. 

"Guess I better go over and see about it," 
said Sergeant Doonan. He mistrusted Beth's 
understanding of the situation, feeling sure that 
so small a girl was easily hoodwinked. "There's 
probably a lot they don't tell you," he went 
on, patronizingly, and teased Beth with a laugh- 
ing reminder of her experience with the "t'ief" 
and the pawn-tickets. 

Beth bottled her wrath. She could not find 



JUST FOLKS 195 

Angela, and in all probability the police could 
if they half tried ; so she must keep their in- 
terest. 

"That's right," she said. "Shall I go with 
you, or do you think you could get more by going 
alone?" 

She was so meek that the Sergeant was sorry 
for her. 

"Oh, you can come along!" he responded 
handsomely — thinking, no doubt, what a lesson 
in proper methods his interrogation of the 
Caseys would be to her. 

Henry Street was as dark as Tartarus, and 
a shade more dreadful, as they stumbled their 
way along its "intermittent sidewalk" as Beth 
called it, and down the steep flight of rickety 
wooden steps leading to the black passageway. 
Beth led the way back to the kitchen door which 
Mary opened to her knock. 

The kitchen was stifling close. In the bracket 
above the sink was the only light, and the 
tin reflector, instead of diffusing the lamp 
rays, seemed to concentrate them, like a feeble 
search light, so that the corners of the kitchen 
were all in gloom, and half lost in shadows 
were the forms of the grief-stricken Caseys, 
whose pallid, tear-streaked faces showed sharply 
white against the dusk. 

"This," said Beth to Mary, "is Sergeant 
Doonan, Mrs. Casey." To her relief and the 



196 JUST FOLKS 

bitter disappointment of the children, he was 
a plain-clothes man. 

Nodding a brief recognition of the introduc- 
tion, he proceeded at once to business. 

"Had any word ?" he asked. 

"Niver a word." 

"You say she left home Monday morning, 
just as usual, to go to work ?" 

"Yissir." 

"And you don't think she intended to stay 
away ?" 

Mary's eyes flashed. "If I t'ought a girl 
o' mine could walk out an' l'ave me intintional, 
wid a chune on her lyin' lips, I'd not be askin' 
ye t' find her," she said. 

"Did she have a beau ?" 

"None that I iver see." 

"Didn't she ever talk about any fellow?" 

"Oh, sure ! she used t' be after talkin' 'bout 
gran' fellies she'd see down town. An' I always 
sez to her: 'You mark me words an' l'ave 
gran' fellies be. They don' mane no good t' 
the likes o' you,' I says. 'Thim fellies spinds 
ivry cint they git on theer gol' watches an' swallie- 
tails, an' whin they marry they got t' marry a 
girl wid money t' support thim. Whin yer old 
enough t' take up wid anny wan,' I says, 'yer 
pa er yer Uncle Tim'll introjuce ye t' some nice 
young lab'rin' man wid a good trade an' ambi- 
tion t' git on ; an' you work fer him while he 



JUST FOLKS 197 

work fer you !' 'Ah, ye don' know nothin' 'bout 
it,' she'd say t' me. An', 'Don' you belave that !' 
I'd say t' her ; ' I'm nothin' t' look at, an' I ain' 
got much style about me, but I got some knowl- 
idge o' mm,' I says, 'which God knows I paid 
dear t' git,' I says, 'an' they're a bad lot, avin 
th' bist o' thim. So you git it out o' yer silly hid 
that anny gran' felly's goin' t' marry you er the 
likes o' you. Ye may rade such foolishness in 
yer story papers er hear it at yer theayters ; 
but ye kin mark me words that love is fer tony 
folks that kin afford it, an' not fer the likes o' 
you an' me.'" 

The detective listened judicially. Beth in- 
terrupted by neither word nor sign. Casey 
kept conspicuously quiet. The children were 
awed into an almost breathless silence. Even 
Jarge Washin'ton forbore to snuffle or to 
pound the floor with his stub of tail. (The 
"hin," alas ! had gone on the altar of necessity. 
"We can't afford t' kape no hin just t' look at," 
Mary had decided when due trial had been 
given of her laying powers. So Nellie, ap- 
preciably fattened by her undisputed pickings 
from the children's scanty plates, had gone 
to the butcher in exchange for a piece of meat ; 
which seemed at least one degree less cannibal 
than for themselves to eat Nellie.) Beth, not- 
ing Jarge and remembering Nellie, was wonder- 
ing what difference it would have made in the 



198 JUST FOLKS 

Sergeant's "methods" if he could have known 
these things. 

"Was she gay at all?" he asked Mary. 

"She be a little granehorn, wid no sinse yit," 
the mother of Angela Ann replied. "I'm after 
talkin' t' her the whole blissid time about kapin' 
straight — as Miss Tully know — an' not l'avin' 
'er go out nights. But I dunno ! Whin a girl 
have her livin' t' make annywheer she kin find 
it, an' her lovin' a good time as all young t'ings 
does, an' min bein' what they are, 'tain't her 
mother that know fer sure wheer she is or what 
she be." 

At this Pa sat suddenly forward in his chair, 
forgetful of the pawn-ticket episode, and others 
with the Maxwell Street police ; and the streak 
of light from the lamp fell full across his face, 
swollen with tears and streaked with the unpro- 
tested grime of this awful day during which 
he had sat by the kitchen stove and moaned, 
"I dunno what I iver done that this t'ing should 
'a' happened t' me !" 

"She were a good girl !" he said to the de- 
tective. "Her ma were awful aisy wid 'er, but 
I'm strict, an' I kep' watch o' her." 

Mary flashed him a look of scorn. "So far's 
we know, she were a good girl," she amended, 
still addressing the detective. "But she had 
no sinse yit, bein' so young. An' the young 
niver belaves the old an' theer wisdom. I 



JUST FOLKS 199 

don' see how a girl o' mine could go wrong an' 
me hatin' it the way I do. But she have more 
o' him in her ner o' me, down t' thim same 
shifty blue eyes that kin look so swate at ye, an' 
God know what divilmint's behint thim !" 

Pa smiled in wan coquetry at this charge 
against his fascinations, but reiterated in de- 
fence of his daughter — and of himself as a 
strict parent : — 

" She were a good girl ! I seen a piece o' this 
world, of'cer, an' I kin till — min like us, we kin 
till girls that's merely flightsome from thim 
that's gon' t' th' bad. If she's bad, I don' want 
ye t' find her. Jes' show me th' felly that lied 
t' her, an' I'll kill 'im — but I don' want ye t' 
find her. I don' niver want t' set eyes on 
her agin if she 've disgraced me." 

Beth was grateful to the detective for the un- 
tempered scorn with which he treated this 
heroic outburst of Pa's. There were more ques- 
tions, mostly about Angela Ann's appearance, 
the clothes she was wearing when she disap- 
peared, how much of her wages she gave her ma, 
and the names of any girls she ever went with. 

On their way back to Maxwell Street, Beth 
told the Sergeant about the red skirt and about 
the fellow Angela had met at the Greek's. He 
wanted to go at once to Blue Island Avenue 
and interview Peter the Greek; but Beth pro- 
tested. 



200 JUST FOLKS 

"Try the donor of the red skirt, first," she 
pleaded. " If you go to the Greek's, it'll spread 
over the neighborhood in an hour that the 
police are looking for Angela Ann." 

Doonan demurred. "You're tryin' to save 
the girl's reputation," he said, "and I'm tryin' 
to save the girl." 

"You're trying to find the girl," Beth cor- 
rected. "There'll be no saving her if she 
comes back, or is brought back, and finds 
her reputation gone. Try the red-skirt fellow 
first — I know how he looks — I'll go with you 
and point him out." 

So that was where, next morning, the search 
for Angela Ann began. An inquiry of the youth 
who had given the skirt, as to where Angela 
"was workin' now" brought an unmistakably 
indifferent reply. 

"I ain't seen 'er in mont's," he said. And 
even Doonan believed him. 

They went next to the place where Beth had 
got Angela a job — the job she had left on 
Saturday. Here Beth talked to her acquaint- 
ance to whom she had pleaded that Angela 
needed the job. To him, under promise of se- 
crecy, Beth confided that Angela was gone. 
He did what he could to help. He tried to find 
out from the other girls what her habits and 
associations had been, but with no results that 
led to anything but wild-goose chases for Doonan. 



JUST FOLKS 201 

On his own initiative, Doonan canvassed the 
five-cent theatres in the vicinity where Angela 
had last worked, and other places where a girl 
who had run away from home on more or less 
innocent pleasure bent might indulge her first 
selfishness. One splendid indulgence to which 
Angela had always aspired was what she called 
"K lunch," meaning the bakery luncheons 
served in many stores throughout the city by a 
firm whose name began with K. Doonan watched 
these for several days, without results. 

It began to seem less and less likely that 
Angela had run away, taken another job, and 
was testing the joy of keeping her earnings for 
herself. For one thing, if she had to pay board, 
she could hardly do it and have left over for 
pleasures and clothes more than a pittance 
which would soon cease to satisfy her. And for 
another, the pitfalls were too numerous and too 
cunningly laid to leave much hope that Angela 
had avoided them. If they could find trace 
of one particular fellow, they might reason- 
ably conclude that Angela had gone with him. 
If they could not, the worst of all possibilities 
only was left : she had been trapped by the 
powers that prey. Of this latter likelihood 
Mary had, fortunately, little or no knowledge. 
If she had ever heard of such things, she had 
thought of them only as remote dangers. What 
she feared most for Angela was what Beth was 



202 JUST FOLKS 

beginning to wish she dared to hope : that the 
girl had gone with some young fellow for whom 
she had a feeling of attachment and who had 
promised to give her "a good time" and was, 
probably, doing it. 

The only clews to a possible "beau" were the 
admission Angela had made to Beth about a 
"fella" she had met up at the Greek's, who had 
taken her to the palm garden ; and something 
she had said to her Aunt Maggie Kavanagh 
about a stylish young man who could not be 
asked to the back cellar on Henry Street. Aunt 
Maggie, whose husband was a blacksmith, had 
offered her own "parlie" for the courting. 

"'Bring him here an' l'ave us have a look at 
him,' I sez to her. 'Ye kin have th' parlie anny 
toime ye want it,' I sez, 'an' if yer 'shamed o' 
yer Uncle Tim's brogue, he kin stay in th' shop, 
an' I'll talk t' him mesilf,' I sez." 

But Angela Ann had not accepted this hand- 
some offer, nor had she confided the name of the 
young man to Mrs. Kavanagh, who only knew 
Angela Ann had assured her he was a gentleman 
beyond a doubt, for he had a gold watch and 
chain. 

Fired by this information, which he considered 
an important clew, Casey was for carrying it 
at once to the police so that they might investi- 
gate all young men wearing gold watches and 
thereby in due process find the one who knew 



JUST FOLKS 203 

Angela Ann. But before he could get away 
to furnish the detective with this important 
information, Mrs. Kavanagh had made some 
further suggestions. The chief of these was 
touching the advisability of consulting a fortune- 
teller. 

"Thim coppers," she opined, "is no good. 
Tim's after radin' a lot about thim in th' paapers, 
an' he sez they niver ketch nothin' 't all. He 
sint ye a dollar wid me, and sez he, 'You till 
thim t' stop foolin' wid coppers an' go t' th' 
forchune-teller,' sez he." 

"I belave it have more t' do wid what th' 
forchune-tellers know than wid what thim 
coppers kin foind out," reflected Mary Casey. 
"Theer's somet'ing I didn't till th' ditictive, 
not knowin' how he'd take it — but the day 
befoore Ang'la Ann wint, a quare, wan-eyed 
cat kem here. Ivrywheer I wint thot day 
she traipsed at me heels, an' all Monday night 
whin I was up watchin' fer Ang'la, th' cat was 
on th' windie-sill, howlin' what sounded joost 
like Aan-g'la, Aan-g'la, Aan-g'la. Now what 
dy'e make o' thot ?" 

Mrs. Kavanagh had been fumbling in her 
plush wrist-bag during this recital. "Say," she 
said presently, holding out a very dirty card, 
"th' las' night Ang'la Ann was t' our house 
she was after l'avin' th' baby play wid her purse, 
an' th' baby spilt all th' t'ings out av it. We 



2o 4 JUST FOLKS 

picked thim up, an' I t'ought we got thim all, 
but whin I was clanein' yiste'day, I foun' this 
card. It mus' be hers, fer Tim say he niver 
see it, an' no more did I." 
The card read : — 



CX HALBERG 

Dramatic Agent — West Madison Street 



"That's him, I bet ye !" cried Casey, excitedly; 
"that's th' felly wid th' goP watch an' chain !" 

"Wait a minute!" commanded Mrs. Kava- 
nagh, impatiently. "Tim sez thot have somet'ing 
t' do wid a theaytre.' 

"Sure," said Mary Casey, "Ang'la Ann would- 
n' be so grane as t' ixpict no theaytre guy t' 
marry her ! She'd ought t' know thim niver 
marries ; or if they do, they have a wife in ivry 
town, loike soldiers an' travellin'-min ! I niver 
bin to no theaytre in my life, but I know that 
much !" 

Casey, who had sat apathetically by the stove 
ever since gray morning dawned after the frantic 
vigil of Monday night, was struggling with the 
lacings of his shoes preparatory to setting forth 



JUST FOLKS 205 

to demolish O. Halberg if he proved his guilt by- 
wearing a gold watch and chain. 

"Ye kin spend yer dollar on yer wan-eyed cat," 
he said indulgently, "but as fer me, I got t' foind 
thot felly thot lied t' me girl." 

So the inaction of the past three days was over, 
temporarily at least. Casey was bound for O. 
Halberg's, and Mrs. Casey and Mrs. Kavanagh 
were going to approach some fortune-teller 
with the dollar and the tale of the cat. But 
first of all Mary must go to the school and take 
Johnny out to mind the baby in her absence. 

"Now, you be keerful," she adjured Casey as 
he made ready to go, "an' don' kill nobody be 
mistake. Th' bist way is t' kill nobody at all," 
she continued cautiously. 

In spite of this caution, however, there would 
have been danger in prospect if Casey had 
owned a gun or if he had taken a few drinks. 
As it was, he was not a formidable figure when 
he presented himself at the number on West 
Madison Street, a few doors from Halsted. 

There was a pawnshop on the first floor, and 
beside it a narrow door, which opened upon a 
long flight of wooden stairs rising steeply to 
a dark hall, where, by the light of a two-foot gas 
burner, Casey could make out the name "O. 
Halberg" on one of the dozen doors. The 
name was painted on a black tin plate tacked to 
a rear door. Casey knocked. 



206 JUST FOLKS 

"Come in," said a guttural voice. 

Entering, Casey saw a man sitting with his 
feet on a battered desk; he was reading the 
morning paper and smoking a vile cigar. The 
walls, kalsomined a kind of ultramarine blue, 
but grimed and fouled unspeakably, were hung 
with theatrical lithographs depicting thrilling 
scenes from plays on the blood-and-thunder 
circuit. For the rest, the furnishings were two 
wooden chairs, a giant cuspidor, and the desk, 
which looked as if it had never been new. 

"Have I," said Casey in his grandest manner, 
"th' honor t' addriss Mr. O. Halberg ?" 

O. Halberg grunted that he had. Then 
Casey advanced a step further into the room 
and looked about for a sight or trace of Angela 
Ann. Nothing could have been more damning 
than O. Halberg's gold chain, but in no likelihood 
would Angela Ann, by any stretch of courtesy, 
have called him young; he was probably fifty, and 
not prepossessing from any possible point of view. 

"Me name is Casey," ventured the visitor; 
"me girl is lost, an' I'm lookin' fer her. We 
found this," proffering the dirty card, "an' we 
t'ought mebbe you'd know wheer she is." 

Casey was proud of the neatness and despatch 
of his "ditictive" methods, but more than a little 
disappointed to find so soon that he was on the 
wrong trail entirely. Mr. Halberg was truly 
surprised to be approached with any such 



JUST FOLKS 207 

query. A great many little silly, stage-struck 
girls flocked to see him, of course, and no doubt 
some of them got hold of his cards " in the hope 
of using them to impress managers," but he had 
no recollection of any girl named Casey — none 
whatever. And he resumed the reading of his 
paper. 

"I got th' coppers after her," murmured 
Casey apologetically, as he took his leave, 
"but thim coppers is no good. Ag'in ye want 
ditictive work done, ye better do it yersilf." 

O. Halberg did not deign to reply, but when 
Casey was safely outside he stepped to the door 
and locked it. In case the "coppers " came 
around, it would be just as well to be "out" 
— it would save the coppers some troublesome 
pretence. 

In his descent of the steep stairs Casey met 
two girls coming up. They were about Angela 
Ann's age and were giggling nervously. One of 
them held between thumb and finger a quarter- 
inch "ad" from a morning paper, offering: — 

"High-salaried positions in good road com- 
panies to young ladies of pleasing appearance. 
O. Halberg, Dramatic Agent, — West Madison 
Street." 

"Ask him if this is the place," said the girl 
who appeared to be following the other's lead. 
Casey directed them to O. Halberg's door, then 
went on his way. A moment later, while he 



208 JUST FOLKS 

stood on the corner of Halsted Street waiting 
for a south-bound car, he saw the girls emerge 
from the door by the pawnshop. They passed 
him as they went to take an east-bound Madison 
Street car on the opposite corner. 

"Did ye foind him ?" Casey asked. 

"No, he wasn't in." 

"That's quare," he said, startled; "he was 
there wan minute before." 

On his way home Casey dropped in at the 
Maxwell Street Station in a free-and-easy manner 
he could not have dreamed possible two days ago. 
He was so full of his "ditictive" experience 
that he felt he must have some one, if only a 
copper, to talk it over with. Doonan wasn't in, 
so Casey related his recent daring exploit to no 
less a personage than the desk sergeant himself. 

It was well poor Casey could not hear the desk 
sergeant's account of the call after the self- 
appointed sleuth had gone on his way. 

Mrs. Casey was at home when her husband 
got there. Relating her adventures, after she 
had listened to his, she said that the fortune-teller, 
after accepting the dollar, had asked several 
searching questions about the one-eyed cat. 

"'Ag'in th' cat come back, yer girl '11 come 
home,' she sez t' me." 

The days dragged by. There seemed to be 
a complete lapse of the stone-cutting industry, 



JUST FOLKS 209 

so Casey had nothing to take his mind from his 
"ditictive" operations, which were interesting 
and unexhausting, though expensive in car fare 
and unproductive of results. 

As time wore on, the poignant horror of 
Angela Ann's absence grew mercifully less for 
all but Mary Casey. Night after night she 
wept the long hours through, until Casey 
complained of the depressing effect of her grief, 
and she felt constrained to hide it. 

"If I could on'y know she were dacintly 
dead," was her heart's cry, as better hopes 
died in her. "Ag'in a bye l'ave home, he kin 
knock around an' pick up a bite here an' a lodgin' 
theer, an' be none th' worse fer it. But a girl 
bees difl'runt ! Theer 's always thim watchin' 
'round thot's riddy t' do her harm." 

Meanwhile she lied bravely to the neighbors. 
"Angela Ann bees livin' out an' have th' grandes' 
place," she told them impressively; "th' lady 
she live wid 's after takin' her to Floridy fer to 
mind her little bye." 

Mary's hope was strong that Christmas would 
see the wanderer's return; but the holidays 
passed in unrewarded waiting. Casey had per- 
force abandoned his search, and worked a day 
or two now and then. Though the traces of 
really terrible suffering were still in his weak, 
winsome face, he had long since forsaken all hope 
of Angela Ann's "safety with honor"; and, 



210 JUST FOLKS 

when it had come to seem unlikely that she 
ever would do so, took comfort in vowing that 
she should never again darken the door of his 
outraged home. 

Mary gave over pleading for her girl, in the 
interests of family peace, but, more and more the 
embodiment of woe as the weeks wore away, 
she haunted localities where Angela Ann had 
been or might be. Sometimes she had wee 
Annie in her arms, but oftener she left her at 
Aunt Maggie's, and roamed the streets unham- 
pered in her never-ending quest. 

Evenings she would say, "I'll be goin' t' yer 
aunt's a bit," and slip away into the engulfing 
dark, to reappear in the glare of light marking the 
entrance to some cheap West Side theatre or 
dance hall. Gradually her excursions extended 
down town, where she would take up her station 
at the door of some place of amusement and 
stand watching the pleasure-seekers pour in ; 
then turn away and wander aimlessly up and 
down the streets for an hour or so before facing 
homeward. In some way she heard about 
stage doors, and took to haunting them. She 
saw many girls of Angela's type, and wondered 
sadly if their mothers knew where they were; 
but her own girl was not among them. In those 
nights on the flaming streets she learned more 
about vice than she had ever dreamed of in 
all her life, and the world came to seem to 



JUST FOLKS 211 

her a vast trap set by the bestial for the 
unwary. 

Not hunger, nor cold, nor abuse, nor sickness, 
nor death, as it came to four of her children, had 
driven Mary Casey to anything like the poign- 
ancy of feeling that was hers now. Heretofore 
she had been patiently dumb under affliction ; 
now her spirit cried out in a passion of pain that 
called straight upon Almighty God for an an- 
swer to its anguished questionings. 

With the aid of Casey, she pored over the 
sensational papers in search of stories about girls 
in trouble, and never a horror happened to an 
unidentified girl anywhere but Mary was sure it 
was Angela Ann. 

Once there was an account of an unknown 
young woman found dead on the prairies near 
Dunning, the county institution. It was Johnny 
who laboriously spelled out this story for her — 
Casey having gone to that club of congenial 
spirits, O'Shaughnessy's saloon — and at ten 
o'clock, when the children were all abed, her 
anxieties could brook no more delay. Throwing 
a shawl about her head and shoulders, she stole 
along the pitchy passageway, up the long flight 
of steps to the sidewalk, clutching the torn frag- 
ment of newspaper in the hand that held the 
shawl together beneath her chin. 

It was Saturday night, and the avenue was 
still brightly lighted. One or two acquaintances 



212 JUST FOLKS 

greeted her, but she hurried by with only a nod 
and a word. At Harrison and Halsted Streets 
and Blue Island Avenue, where three streams of 
ceaseless activity converge, there is always a 
whirlpool rapids of traffic and humanity, and 
there, in a drug store, Mary felt far enough from 
her own haunts and all who knew her and Angela 
Ann to venture on her errand. 

"I want t' tillyphone," she whispered to the 
clerk, who pointed impatiently to the booth. 

"I dunno how," said Mary, imploringly. "I 
want ye t' do it fer me. R'ade that." She 
thrust the dirty, crumpled fragment of the even- 
ing's yellow journal into his hand. 

The young man glanced at it, and then curi- 
ously at her. "I've read it," he said. 

"Down here, somewheers," said Mary, point- 
ing vaguely towards the last paragraph, "it till 
wheer she be, an' I want ye t' tillyphone that 
place an' ask thim have she a large brown mole 
on her lift side. If she have, I'm goin' out theer 
this night, for 'tis my girl I t'ink she be." 

This was not as startling an episode to the 
young man addressed as it might have been to 
one in a quieter locality. Nevertheless, it 
smacked of the dramatic sufficiently to interest 
him, and when Mary proffered her nickel he 
called up the Dunning morgue. 

After what seemed an interminable wait, 
while the sleepy morgue attendant at the county 



JUST FOLKS 213 

poorhouse was being summoned by repeated 
rings, and the brief colloquy was in progress, 
the clerk emerged from the booth. 

"The girl has been identified this evening," 
he said. 

Disappointment mingled with relief in Mary's 
countenance ; she had reached that stage where 
it would have been not altogether unendurable 
to look at Angela Ann's dead face, even in a 
morgue. 

As she retraced her way home, the chill of the 
sharp February night struck into her mercilessly. 
When she set forth, she had scarcely noticed it 
in her preoccupation ; but now that another 
expectation, however tragic, had proved false, 
and the situation stretched ahead of her in- 
definitely dull and despairing again, the abrupt 
relaxation left her physically as well as mentally 
"let down," and she shivered violently as she 
hurried along. 

"Mother o' God," she cried, the tears rolling 
swiftly down her shrunken cheeks, "wheer is 
my girl this night ? If I could on'y know she 
had a roof over her head an' a fire t' kape her 
warm !" 

Casey was still out when she got back, and 
she was thankful, for the sight of her tears made 
him ugly these days. "She 've disgraced us," 
he said of Angela Ann, "an' she be dead t' me, 
an' ought t' be t' you, if ye had proper shame." 



214 JUST FOLKS 

"The new wan" came late in February, and 
was a boy. He was to be named Patrick for his 
pa. The first child of the family had borne 
the name, but he was long since dead ; and now 
the New One was to have it and do it honor. 

Beth went to see Patrick when he was two 
days old, and there was no mistaking the hap- 
piness he brought to his family. 

Somehow, in all the dire poverty of the win- 
ter — Beth had had to intervene more than 
once to save the stove from "bein' took" — 
the Cyclopaedia remained. The enforced educa- 
tional zeal of Johnny and Dewey had lapsed, 
and the "aisy paymints" emporium had seized 
the sanguinary book-case. But the "wolumes" 
were still there, owing to the greater leniency of 
the newspaper over the emporium, and to the 
fact that whenever they were threatened, Pa 
showed such keen regret, such letting down 
of his high hopes for the new wan, that Mary 
made some sacrifice of food or warmth and kept 
the " twinty-sivin " ranged on a rude shelf in 
the "front room." The shelf was covered with 
lace shelf-paper in three different-colored layers 
— red and green and yellow — and was, with 
the "wolumes," the chief furnishing of that 
chill best room which was to be a "parlie" 
some day when Pa's "gran' job" persisted long 
enough. 

On the occasion of Beth's call, Pa — who had 



JUST FOLKS 215 

all too evidently accepted an unwise number of 
toasts to the new wan's health — carried wee 
Patsy, shrouded in his ma's black shawl, into 
the front room and held him up to view the 
"wolumes." 

"Look at th' l'arnin' yer Pa have laid by fer 
ye," he adjured his son. And Patsy blinked, 
unmoved by the appalling weight of wisdom 
that was apportioned to him. 

He was to be christened on Tuesday — this 
was Sunday — in the Holy Family Church. His 
Aunt Maggie was "after lindin' him a swell 
dress t' wear," and there was going to be a 
christening party afterwards. Pa was "takin' 
special intrust in the christenin'," Mary informed 
Beth, "an' is goin' t' carry Patsy t' the church 
himself. What's worryin' him now is the god- 
parents. He don' want no ordinary ignyram- 
muses standin' up fer Patsy that some day 
Patsy 'd be ashamed t' own. We thought o' 
you, Miss Tully, now, an' that young man o' 
yours that write fer the paper. If he could 
bring another writer or same wan like that, an' 
the three o' ye stan' up fer Patsy, it'd be some- 
thin' like." 

Beth accepted for herself, and said she thought 
she might accept for Mr. Ferris ; about the third 
godparent, she didn't know. But she would see 
Mr. Ferris this evening and ask him to do what 
he could. 



216 JUST FOLKS 

Hart Ferris was willing, as Beth knew he 
would be, not only to stand godfather to wee 
Patsy, but to look for another — which he had 
no difficulty in doing. He mentally passed in 
review a number of clever young fellows he 
knew who wrote books, and corking good books, 
too — but, by Jove ! none of them looked im- 
pressive, any more than he himself did. Seemed 
as if Patsy ought to have one godparent who 
looked like incarnate wisdom, like a walking 
Cyclopaedia ! There was one man Ferris knew 
who looked like that — he was one of the minor 
book reviewers on the paper — but his sense of 
humor was rudimentary, and he might not be 
appealed to by the prospect of being Patsy's 
godfather. When, however, Ferris had broken 
the news to him in a way that enlisted his in- 
terest and consent, Ferris began to feel that a 
mere newspaper job should no longer hold him. 
"The real place for me," he told Beth, "is at 
the court of Austria, or Germany, or wherever 
diplomacy is at its greatest premium to-day." 

But, alas ! and alas ! the christening so nobly 
planned, and so ably carried out, was destined 
to be followed soon by mourning. Poor Patsy 
caught cold, in the big, draughty church, and 
the cold developed into what the family called 
"the ammonia on the lungs," and in two days 
after he was christened, wee Patsy was dead, 
and there was woe in the house of his kindred. 



JUST FOLKS 217 

There are people in this world who seem to 
think it's comparatively easy to give up a little 
tiny baby you've only had a few days — es- 
pecially if you have seven other children; but 
that's because they don't know how many 
hopes are builded about each New One, how 
many fair dreams die when the little New One 
slips away again. There were people who thought 
Patsy's coming and going was just a matter of 
"a baby more or less" to the Caseys ; but it 
was much, much more than that. It seemed, 
somehow, that when he went, the promise of 
splendidly better things went, too. 

And, what made the going harder still, there 
was no money to bury him with ! "Me scrimpin' 
and pinchin' t' pay for insur'nce all along," 
wept poor Mary, "an' whin I nade a fun'ral, 
'tis fer the wan child that's not insured." 

They owned a single grave in Calvary; in it 
were the two children that were dead these 
many years — little Mamie and little Patsy — 
and the law would allow them to put a third 
tiny body in with the others. But there was a 
coffin to be bought, and an interment fee to be 
paid, and somehow or other Patsy must be got 
to his burial. 

Beth felt unable to help much, unless she 
absolutely must. She suggested that Ferris 
pass a hat in his office. "'Twouldn't do any 
good," he said, "I never knew such a 'broke' 



218 JUST FOLKS 

bunch. A hat passed there now wouldn't come 
back with the lining in — if it was a good lining." 
So it was decided to see if the Parish would do 
aught for Patsy. 

Pa went to the priest who had christened 
Patsy, and told of Patsy's death. The priest 
was Irish — a big, kindly young fellow who had 
been a peasant boy in County Kerry and knew 
the sorrows of the poor. He went over to 
Henry Street an hour or two afterward, carrying 
a tiny white coffin in which he helped to lay 
Patsy; and out of the pockets of his overcoat 
the priest brought candles for Patsy's head and 
feet. They made a bier of two yellow-painted 
kitchen chairs, and laid Patsy in his little white 
coffin upon it, and lighted the tapers, and the 
other children knelt around Patsy, murmuring 
their prayers for the repose of his soul. It was 
a picture — a great picture : the gloomy front 
room where the sunshine never came ; the little 
bit of dazzling whiteness in the shadows, that 
Patsy's coffin made ; the tall tapers ; the tear- 
drenched childish faces ; the awe ; the Mystery. 

When he left, the priest said he would see 
what he could do about the funeral, and straight 
he went to another house in the Nineteenth Ward, 
where also a son lay dead and many hopes were 
dead with him. It was the house of a powerful 
Irish politician and saloon-keeper, and the son 
was a young man nineteen years old and the 



JUST FOLKS 219 

pride of his father's heart — which was, after 
the queer fashion of human nature, no less 
tender because his conscience was full of callous 
spots. The priest told the saloon-keeper about 
Patsy, drew for him a sympathetic picture of 
the scene he had just left, and — 

"Sure, he can come along with my boy," 
said the Boss. "My boy was always one to 
share what he had when he was alive, an' I 
guess he'd be more'n glad to share his fun'ral — 
the last thing I can ever give him." 

So, back to Henry Street the priest went, and 
told the Caseys that Patsy was to "come along" 
in the rich young man's funeral. If Pa would 
carry him over to the church in the morning, 
before ten, he was welcome to share in the 
requiem high mass, and the hundreds of tapers, 
and the loads and loads of flowers, and the 
grand, expensive singing. He was welcome, too, 
to ride to Calvary in the rich young man's 
hearse; and there'd be two carriages for the 
parents and children to ride in. 

When Mary heard this, her tears flowed 
afresh. "Poor little Patsy!" she sobbed. 
"Seem like he was born t' be lucky, an' he died 
before he had a chance t' find it out." 

There was one mark of respect she could 
show him, though — one manifestation of her 
grief she could afford to make : she sent Midget 
to Blue Island Avenue with twenty-five cents 



220 JUST FOLKS 

and instructions to invest it in "th' bist black 
dye." And into the wash-tub, on Midget's 
return, went the package of dye and several 
pails of water and everything belonging to the 
Caseys that could, by any stretch of courtesy or 
the imagination, be called a garment. 

All night the kitchen hung full of coats and 
skirts and capes and pinafores, all dripping, 
dripping, like Mary's slow, unceasing tears. 
And in the morning there issued from the Casey 
cellar a procession as sable-solemn as anything 
that Henry Street had ever seen. 

It was a "gran', imprissive fun'ral" that little 
Patsy had. And when the Caseys were at home 
again and the neighbors came crowding in to 
hear about it, the wash-tub, still half full of dye, 
was standing in the corner on the kitchen floor. 

"If anny o' you," said Mary, indicating the 
tub, "'d like t' use some o' that, yer welcome. 
Patsy had a fine fun'ral lint 'im, an' I'm sure 
he'd be glad, in 'is turn, t' lind some o' his 
mournin'." 

Which was how a considerable part of Henry 
Street may be said to have gone with the Caseys 
into mourning for Patsy. 

"Of course," said Beth to Ferris, telling him 
about the myriad "mourners," "their motive 
was economic, not emotional ; but perhaps it's 
not unlike some other mourning garb on that 
account." 



JUST FOLKS 221 

Thus Patsy came and went. The span be- 
tween whence we come and whither we go is 
brief at best. And Patsy managed to bring 
with him a good deal of the tender glory of the 
place whence he came, and to take with him a 
great deal of new hope of the place whither he 
was gone. And, when all is said and done, 
what immortal spirit can, in its mortal span, 
do more than that for itself or for the rest of 
mortality ? 

Except with her mother, hope for Angela Ann 
had died a lingering death. But with Mary, 
her girl that was gone was still the most vital 
thing in life. 

The first time she came to see Beth after the 
New One had come and gone, Mary said, with 
an intensity that fairly startled Beth : — 

"D'ye know what I'm prayin', now ?" 

"No. What?" 

" Ye'll be shocked wid me — ?" 

"Of course I won't ! I couldnH be shocked 
with you." 

They two were together in Beth's little bed- 
room, whither Mary felt she must withdraw out 
of hearing of Liza and Adam, when she wished 
to speak of Angela. 

"I'm prayin'," she said, "that Angela'll git 
a baby — a little bit o' baby ! Sure, if anny 
wan 'd iver toP me I'd pray that about a girl o' 



222 JUST FOLKS 

mine that's not married, I'd V kilt thim. But 
don' ye see ? If she'd git a little baby, wouldn' 
it be a lot better fer 'er nor goin' t' th' bad fer 
impty plisure ? I seen t'ings since she wint, 
Miss Beth, that I niver dreamed of before in all 
my life, an' I'm prayin' God t' sind me girl a 
baby that'll wake th' bist in 'er an' mebbe t'ach 
'er how mothers love an' bring 'er home agin 
t' me." 

And for weary weeks thereafter, Mary cher- 
ished the hope of Angela Ann coming, trembling, 
along the board walk to the kitchen door, with 
her baby in her arms ; and the thought of how 
surprised she'd be at the gladness of her wel- 
come; and the new understanding they would 
have, each of the other — she and Angela Ann 
— in their common motherhood. 



XII 



Mary Casey undoubtedly had a great deal 
to stand ; but no more than the days of any 
other mortal with an inextinguishable zest for 
life, were hers without enlivening. On the con- 
trary, it was one of the best evidences of Mary's 
truly big nature that she never neglected any 
opportunity for diversion that came her way. 

Beth and Eleanor, talking her over as they 
delighted to do for their own deeper instruction 
in the wisdom of life, could not sufficiently extol 
her elasticity of spirit. But it solved, of course, 
what might otherwise have been the problem of 
how she kept herself so strong to bear. 

Even in the midst of all her suffering over 
Angela Ann and her gentler grief for the passing 
of Patsy, she had her intervals of comedy relief, 
her alternation of smiles with tears. Mary Casey 
lived too deeply and truly to miss any essential 
element of life. There was nothing more splen- 
didly real about her than the way shade and shine 
played on each other's heels in her days. 

There was, for instance, the relief afforded by 
the Riordans, a numerous clan newly moved in 
upstairs. Riordan was a piano-mover and his 

223 



224 JUST FOLKS 

prowess was the pride of his children; he had 
dreams of becoming a policeman, some day, and 
the Riordans held themselves rather mightily, in 
consequence. Mrs. Riordan also was endowed 
with energy; but hers was chiefly linguistic. 

It was the tactlessness of Mis' Shugar, the 
Jewish landlady, which started things wrong for 
the Caseys and Riordans. "It iss Irish peebles 
in below of you," she told Mrs. Riordan when 
renting to her, and went on to acquaint her with 
very interesting details about the Caseys. 

Mrs. Riordan sniffed — and the sniff was a 
declaration of war. "Theer's mos'ly low Irish 
livin' aroun' here," she said loftily, "an' me an' 
my fam'ly don' take up wid 'em at all." 

Nevertheless, she plied Mis' Shugar with a 
number of questions about the Caseys' past and 
present, and further pursued the same line of 
investigation with the Rubovitzes — mother and 
children — and the Spiridovitches, and with all 
the others of her new neighbors above and below 
and beside, who could "understan' annythin' 
but gibberish," as Mrs. Riordan put it. Ac- 
cordingly, when the first shot was fired it was 
from a full arsenal on Mrs. Riordan's side, and 
it fell into an unprepared but not — as will be 
seen — into a defenceless camp when it landed 
on Mary Casey hanging a few dingy-colored 
clothes to dry in the low, oozy back yard. 

What landed was a tin handbasinful of dirty 



JUST FOLKS 225 

water wherein several small Riordans had suc- 
cessively performed compulsory ablutions — to 
the no great improvement of the last in line. 
The water fell with a splud, not a foot from where 
Mary Casey stood, and part of it splashed mud 
up on her low-hanging sheets, and part sprayed 
her. 

She looked up, resentfully, but her tone was 
quiet — as it always was — when she spoke. 
"That's no way t' be doin'," she said, "t'rowin' 
slops on a body's clane clo'es." 

Mrs. Riordan was ready. "Clane?" she 
sneered, "clane ? Sure I t'ought a little water'd 
do thim good." 

This was a crucial moment, for by the nature of 
Mrs. Casey's reply Mrs. Riordan could judge 
whether or not she had a foeman worthy of her 
steel. 

"It might 'ave," returned Mary, imperturb- 
ably, pointing to the mud bespattering her sheets, 
"if ye hadn' washed yer face in it first." 

Mrs. Riordan snorted with mingled rage and 
excitement ; it was going to be a fine fight ! 

The hostilities thus opened continued briskly; 
hardly an hour passed without some sharp skir- 
mishing, and never a day went by without an 
engagement of sufficient magnitude to be called 
a battle. As neither participant-in-chief ever 
entered the other's flat, and both of them used 
infrequently the inside hall of pitchy blackness 



226 JUST FOLKS 

and stairs of corkscrew turnings which were 
"the back way" to the dwellers in front rooms 
and "the front way" to dwellers in the rear, 
most of the action took place in the yard — to 
the no small satisfaction of those neighbors who 
lived in rear rooms. 

The offensive attitude was Mrs. Riordan's 
exclusively; Mary preferred the retort to the 
opening fire. "Anny wan can begin a fight," 
she said to those partisans of hers who were con- 
tinually suggesting to her a strategy of attack, 
"but it take rale brains t' finish wan." And it 
was observable to every one — even to Mrs. 
Riordan — that Mary usually did the finishing. 
Even Pa Casey's admiration was compelled by 
his wife's efficiency. 

Every time he came in he would inquire for the 
latest news from the seat of war. He was one 
of the chief of those who presumed to offer Mary 
advice as to how she should conduct her cam- 
paign ; but his advice was never taken. None 
the less, he believed himself to be the inspiration 
of his wife's wittiest retorts, and as such he 
bragged loudly at O'Shaughnessy's saloon. This 
came to the ears of Mrs. Riordan — whose 
better half also frequented O'Shaughnessy's 
— and she taunted Mary with it. 

"Sure," said Mary, cheerfully, "Casey do be 
a great hilp t' me. He fin' out from Riordan, 
when Riordan's drunk, what ye're practisin' 



JUST FOLKS 227 

up t' say t' me ; an' whin I come out here t' min' 
me bit o' business, yer spielin's that old t' me 
I don' bother me hid wid listenin' til it." 

This untruth cost Riordan a warlike evening 
and caused him to vent his injured feelings on 
Pa Casey, to the enlivening of a jaded hour in 
O'Shaughnessy's saloon. 

Much incensed, Pa carried the fight back to 
Mary on whose head he intended the brunt of 
the blow should fall, like a properly returned 
boomerang. 

"This here rag-chewin' wid the Riordan 
woman's got to stop!" he declared, bringing 
his stone-cutter's fist down on the table with an 
emphasis that made the dishes dance. 

Mary eyed him scornfully ; the pride of the 
victor was in her veins and the novel sensation 
was doing her a world of good. 

"Got t' stop, have it?" she echoed. "Well, 
I'll tell ye how t' stop it ! You git a job, an' 
stay in it. Whin ye're workin' stiddy we can 
move out o' this onhilthy cellar, an' go t' some 
place wheer the neighbors'll have t' rayspict us. 
What's the r'ason a woman like th' Riordan 
woman dare t' come barkin' aroun' me that kin 
silence 'er every time, an' she know it ? On'y 
because you ain't got no job, an' she know it ! 
On'y because yer bye Mikey's in the refarm school 
wheer yer drivin' of him an' continual restin' of 
yersilf have sint him — an' she know it ! On'y 



228 JUST FOLKS 

because we're behin' han' wid th' rint — an' she 
know it ! An' that ixpinsive iducation ye're after 
buyin' fer poor little Patsy that didn' nade it, 
's goin' t' git took off of us if I can't skimp 
enough out o' the childern's stum'cks to make 
a paymint on 't nixt wake — an' she know it ! 
'Tain't me that pervide her wid subjicks o' con- 
versation ; 'tis yersilf ! An' 'tis yersilf that kin 
stop 'er, if ye want 'er stopped ! " 

There was always a fine uncertainty 1 how Pa 
would receive a thrust like this ; whether 
with return thrust, lunging viciously, or with 
parry, discoursing pathetically on the times 
and how out of joint they are, or with a display 
of nimble dodging which caused one's ireful 
stroke to pierce only thin air instead of Pa's 
slothful and complacent mind. 

This time he dodged. "Beats all," he philoso- 
phized, "how women will pry an' gossip. A man 
have no peace wid 'em at all — they're always 
wantin' t' till 'im what the woman up-stairs had 
on whin she wint t' the store, er how wasteful 
she pales her pitaties. 'Tis no kind av talk at 
all — an' if a man want to hear better, he've 
got t' go wheer there's no women's tongues 
a-waggin'." 

And, with an aggrieved manner, Pa put on his 
hat and went up to O'Shaughnessy's. 

"Yer pa have gran' argymints," Mary flung 
after him as he went — nominally addressing 



JUST FOLKS 229 

the children, but actually having the last word 
with Pa — " sure, 'tis one o' these here lawyers 
he ought t' have been — er anny job wheer 
gab'll git ye bread an' butter an' ye've no nade 
t' work at all." 

But Pa was gone — as is the immemorial way 
with men — and the situation in the Casey 
household remained just about what the situation 
had been since the Casey household began to be. 

"That's all ye'll iver git out o' Pa!" ob- 
served Johnny, bitterly. "Whin ye tell 'im yer 
hungry, he put on his hat an' go t' O'Shaugh- 
nessy's an' spind his las' quarter gittin' drunk." 

Mary looked at her son. The harsh contempt 
in his voice, the sharp disgust in his boyish, 
almost childish, face, with its dimples that were 
made for smiles, hurt her intolerably. 

"Johnny," she said, "our Mikey ain' goin' t' 
git out o' wheer he is fer quite a long time. An' 
Ang'la Ann may not come back fer a while. We 
can't go on livin' like this, an' theer's on'y two 
t'ings I can t'ink of that we kin do. Wan o' 
thim is that I kin git some dishwashing t' do in 
some restyraunt on Twelfth Street, like I used t' 
do, er go down town nights t' scrub buildin's ; and 
th' other is t' try an' git you leave t' work. I'm 
after talkin' t' Miss Tully about it, an' she say 
she'll spake t' th' fact'ry inspicter about ye. An' 
I'm t' take ye over theer an' show ye to 'im, till 
he see does he want t' lit ye work." 



230 JUST FOLKS 

" I want t' work, all right," said Johnny, with 
a bluff, brave tone and a manly hitching of his 
trousers which, we all know, is sure outward evi- 
dence that something conclusive has happened 
in the male mind. 

His mother went to the dark closet off the 
"front" bedroom and after some deep delving 
reappeared with a half-dozen nondescript things 
which she ranged in review on the kitchen table. 
Close inspection would have revealed them to be 
the battered and weather-beaten remains of 
what had once been hats — all "hand-downs" 
from a variety of sources and none of them at any 
time nicely related to Mary's looks or needs. 
One after the other, she scrutinized them. 

"What are them for?" asked Johnny. 

"That's what I can't tell ye," his mother 
replied. "They're the last o' the Morgans, 
I'm thinkin', an' if I kin fin' wan o' thim that won' 
scare a man, I'm goin' t' take you t' the mogul 
that have so much t' say about who'll work an' 
who will not." 

Mrs. Riordan saw them when they went out. 
"Seems t' me," she observed, hanging over her 
porch rail in a leisurely way that belied her 
energetic preachment, " that some folks'd better 
stay home an' do their week's wash — which 
they ain't touched yet — instid av gallivantin' 
out wid fithered bunnits on 'em." 

Mary looked up at her and smiled, showing 



JUST FOLKS 231 

her sad lack of teeth. "Work is fer thimthat 
has to," she said loftily, "as fer me, I'm livin' 
on th' intrust o' me money." 

The factory inspector was one of those rare 
mortals, a reformer with a sense of humor. He 
listened with infinite appreciation to Mary's 
recital of the reasons why it was necessary for 
Johnny to have a job, and his face was a study 
in repression when she came to the tale of the 
Cyclopaedia. 

"Your husband must be a most unusual sort 
of man," he remarked gravely. He had been 
fully posted by Beth on the Casey history. 

"Humph!" said Mary, "I've seen plinty o' 
the same sort, in my time ; the ,woods is pritty 
full o' thim, on Hinry Strate ; 'tis the commonist 
complaint we've got." 

"I don't mean his laziness," the inspector has- 
tened to explain ; "I mean his love of learning." 

Mary's look was scathing. "Ye mane his 
love o' showin' off, I guess. If theer was on'y 
some way he could arn his livin' be showin' off, 
sure no wan could bate him to it. 'Tis a pity you 
that's so smart t' till childern they shan't work 
an' kape from starvin', couldn' have a daypart- 
mint t' till min like Casey they shan't ate — ner 
drink — onliss they work." 

"You could have him putin jail," suggested the 
inspector. 



232 JUST FOLKS 

"Thank ye," said Mary, "I've wan in jail 
now, an' I don' find it no aid t' me income." 

The inspector admitted the force of this argu- 
ment. "Well," he said, "I can get him a job — " 

"He kin git hisself a job, a' right," Mary in- 
terrupted. "What he nade is a law t' make him 
kape it!" 

"There couldn't be a law like that," the 
inspector explained; "it would be an injustice 
to a lot of men who had good reason for wanting 
to quit their jobs. But I wouldn't be above a 
little deceit with Casey — I wouldn't mind trying 
to make him believe there was such a law — " 
(this was part of a plot laid with Beth). 

"You couldn' do it !" said Mary, promptly 

"Let me try," he begged, smiling. "Before 
we put Johnny, here, to work while he ought 
to be in school learning, and out doors playing 
ball and growing big and strong so he won't be 
like poor Mikey that you tell about, let me see 
if I can't do something with Pa." 

Mary's easy hopefulness grasped at this offer. 
"If ye on'y could, now," she murmured grate- 
fully. " Ye've no idare what a fine man Casey'd 
be, if he could just git it into his hid that he 
wanted t' work." 

"Well, I'll be around to see him this evening, 
about supper time. *And all you and Johnny 
have got to do is not to let on that you've ever 
seen me before." 



JUST FOLKS 233 

"Sure, we'll do that," said Mary. "But ye 
ain't manein' him anny harm, are ye ? I 
wouldn' do nothin' t' l'ave him be harmed. He 
do vex me, at times, an' make t'ings hard fer the 
childern, but theer ain't nothin' bad about him." 

The inspector assured her that he meant no 
possible harm to Pa. "But I think I can get 
him a job," he said, "and if I do, perhaps I can 
make him believe he's got to keep it." 

Accordingly, that evening when the family was 
at supper, an important-looking gentleman called, 
looking for Patrick Casey. The Cairo and 
Chicago R. R., he said, was building a new bridge 
over the Sandstone River at Monovia, Illinois. 
An additional stone-cutter was needed for work 
on the piers, and the company, having heard of 
the excellence of Mr. Casey's work, had sent to 
offer the job to him. 

Pa glanced around the family circle to make 
sure they realized what was happening, and 
after due consideration and discussion of ways 
and means — and wages — accepted. 

"Good!" said the caller as if now his mind 
were at rest about the safety of the bridge. "I 
have the company's contract with me, Mr. 
Casey, all ready for your signature." And he 
produced a formidable-looking document, much 
ornamented with red and gilt seals, and a silver- 
scrolled fountain-pen. 



234 JUST FOLKS 

"Contrack ?" said Pa, his eyes opening wide 
at the sight, "I ain't niver signed no contrack 
before." 

The inspector looked surprised. "Well, prob- 
ably not," he admitted, "but I should think a 
man of your well-known skill would always have 
insisted on it. What right has any corporation 
to approach you with a request to work for it, 
to ask you to leave your family and go to Mono- 
via, without giving you its legally-attested 
guarantee that when you get there you will find 
the work as described to you ? This contract pro- 
vides that the company furnish you with free 
transportation to Monovia ; that it pay you the 
union scale for stone-cutting during all the 
time you are in its employ ; and it assures you 
employment every day for a period of not less 
than six months. It is not often, Mr. Casey, that 
a man of your known abilities will accept a posi- 
tion without a contract. In the professional and 
higher mercantile worlds, no one would dream 
of so doing. Why, then, should the skilled 
laborer be asked to do less ?" 

"That's what I've niver been able t' see!" 
said Pa, indignantly, as he reached for the pen 
to sign his name. He had the air of a states- 
man to whom has come at last the moment 
when what he has long contended for needs 
only his signature to become a law. It was a 
breathless moment in the Caseys' family history, 



JUST FOLKS 23s 

and no one enjoyed it so much as Pa — not 
even Mary. 

"I'll be around in the morning, Mr. Casey," the 
inspector said, "and take you down to the depot 
and introduce you to the company's agent." 

When he was gone, the Caseys sat for a few 
seconds in a silence no one of them dared to 
break. Then Pa, looking scornfully at the 
meagre supper table, said : — 

"Johnny, go up t' Schmidinger's an' git two 
lemon cream pies, on me word." 

After supper, Pa got together his tools, left 
explicit orders about having his "things washed 
up," and went to O'Shaughnessy's, wearing, as he 
went, such an insufferably swaggering air that it 
was a foregone conclusion he would not be in the 
genial atmosphere of O'Shaughnessy's longer 
than five minutes before some one essayed to 
take the swagger out of him. 

Some one did ; they all did ! They scoffed 
at his "contrack"; they suggested that the 
inspector was a "fly cop" and it was a warrant 
for his own arrest that Pa had signed ; they 
hinted that, failing the warrant, it was "some 
kind o' bunk"; they intimated that if any one 
present had a gold brick, Pa would be a likely 
purchaser; they asked him if he had ever seen 
the explosion on the lake front and if he'd heard 
the Masonic Temple was for sale. 

At first, Pa tried to joke with them, to twit 



236 JUST FOLKS 

them as being jealous, and the like. But in a 
little while he grew as angry as they desired and 
drank as much as O'Shaughnessy considered his 
credit was "good for." 

Then he went home, where the children were 
all asleep and Mary was still bending over the 
wash-tub, and gave Mrs. Riordan (through the 
ceiling, which also was her kitchen floor) a de- 
tailed recital of his wrongs. 

In the morning, when the inspector came, 
Pa refused to go. The inspector appealed to 
Mr. Casey. Would he go back on his word ? 
Would he leave the railroad in the lurch ? Had 
he no sense of the responsibility of that bridge, 
over which so many persons would be carried 
that the safety of its stone piers was of the very 
gravest importance to thousands of human 
lives ? Pa considered none of these things. 
Then the inspector was sorry, but firm. Mr. 
Casey had signed a contract ; the law would 
expect him to fulfil it. And the inspector opened 
his coat and displayed an authoritative star. 

Pa went. Mrs. Riordan was hanging over 
her porch rail and saw them go. 

"Is yer man pinched, too ?" she asked Mary. 

"Why, no!" said Mary, "is yours? Whin 
was he took ? " 

The job at Monovia proved genuine enough, 
as Pa discovered on arriving there. The town 



JUST FOLKS 237 

was a miserable little "dump" which existed 
only because of the great mine of bituminous 
coal that was practically its sole industry and 
excuse for being. There were miners' cottages — 
some squalid, and some as neat and nearly 
attractive as the bleak and black surroundings 
would allow ; and a proportion of saloons which 
astonished even Pa ; these, with a couple of 
"general" stores, comprised Monovia. The 
workmen on the C. and C. bridge, just beyond 
the tiny town, were quartered in a construction 
train of freight-cars. Skilled workmen, who 
could earn four dollars a day, did not relish this ; 
it incensed them to be put, apparently, on a level 
with the "dagoes" who shovelled dirt. Hence 
the ease with which the factory inspector got 
the job for Pa. 

The contractor's foreman at the bridge had 
no particular sense of humor, but he had a great 
desire to get his stone piers in. So, when the 
"contrack" was passed on to him, with explana- 
tions, he welcomed it as a possible way of 
keeping one stone-cutter with him. 

Accordingly, when Pa "threw a bluff" and 
declared he was going to leave, the foreman pro- 
duced that formidable-looking document with 
all its red and gold seals, and laid down to Pa the 
"law" about violation of contract. A fellow- 
workman to whom Pa confided his dilemma, 
was very sceptical, and advised Pa to consult a 



m 



2 3 8 JUST FOLKS 

lawyer. But Pa had no sense of lawyers as 
persons who might get one out of trouble — 
only as persons who were zealous to get one deeper 
in ; and besides, there was no lawyer at Monovia. 
So Pa stayed. 

He wrote home, sometimes, and every now 
and then he sent some money. There was noth- 
ing regular about his remittances and they had 
but a meagre ratio to his earnings. But Mary 
was not used to regularity, nor to sufficiency. 
And she was looking forward hopefully to the 
time when Mikey "would be let out," and to 
the home-coming of Angela Ann. 

Her unfaltering faith in the latter event was 
wonderful. It was the dream of her life, now, 
to have the "parlie" ready when Angela Ann 
came back. 

"It have always been my belafe," she told 
Beth, "that if we'd had a parlie the poor little 
t'ing wouldn't niver 'a' wint away. Ag'in she 
come home, I'm goin' t' kape the parlie nice far 
'er an' not l'ave the kids muss it up. An' I 
ain' goin' t' l'ave 'er go down town t' work no 
more — theer's too manny bad min. She kin 
stay home an' mind th' house, an' I'll git scrub- 
bin' t' do. Wid what her pa sind, now an' thin, 
an' what I earn, an' what Mikey make ag'in he 
git out, an' Johnny goin' t' work before so very 
long, we kin mebbe give her a dollar a wake fer 
'er clo'es an' spindin' money. An' Kate an' 



JUST FOLKS 239 

Pete's goin' t' take her t' th' theaytre rale fray- 
quint — an' Maggie an' Tim'll do what they 
kin fer 'er — an' by 'n 'by whin she git cheered 
up good, an' some nice young felly that mane 
right by 'er come around, I'm goin' t' l'ave 'er 
'ave 'im in th' parlie ivry night, an' no wan t' 
bother thim." 

Beth could hardly keep her tears back when 
she thought how little likely all this was to 
come to pass. But she never let breath of her 
unbelief dull Mary's hopes. And between them, 
she and Eleanor begged quite a collection of 
finery for the parlie. Then, one night after the 
other children were abed, Mary and Johnny 
washed the dirty blue kalsomine off the walls ; 
and another night they had much amusement 
putting on a new coat which the man in the 
paint store "on Blue Islan'" had mixed for them. 
He lent them a brush, for a nickel extra ; and if, 
when the brush came back again, he regretted 
his bargain, he didn't say so. The pathos of 
the parlie must have got into his heart, too. 

The color of the new kalsomine was green. A 
newspaper story of Hart Ferris's brought several 
offers of discarded bookcases, one of which was 
accepted for the Cyclopaedia. The same source 
yielded a stuffed sofa and two or three chairs — 
one a patent rocker. Eleanor begged a lamp 
and some curtains. Beth manoeuvred the ac- 
quisition of a carpet-rug, not new, but amply 



240 JUST FOLKS 

satisfying. Mary made one purchase. A 
second-hand store on Halsted Street displayed 
a gorgeous gilt and plush frame with an "air 
brush" enlargement of some lady of the Nine- 
teenth Ward — or elsewhere — who was de- 
ceased, or supplanted and forgotten. 

Beth was a bit staggered when she saw this. 
"Who is the lady, Mary ?" she asked. 

"Sure, I dunno," said Mary. "But she's a 
nice-lookin' lady, an' I got it chape, an' I t'ought 
it'd look rale drissy fer a parlie — seein' we've 
no enlargemints of our own." 

Beth gasped. Then she recollected how ex- 
actly similar were her reasons for owning as 
her sole art treasures a carbon photograph of 
Mona Lisa and a little plaster cast of Venus of 
Melos. 

Thus the parlie progressed, to the envy of 
Mrs. Riordan and the Rubovitzes, and the great 
consolation of Mary. 

One night toward the end of March, Johnny 
came in with a "Last and Sporting Extra" of a 
penny paper committed to the belief in lurid 
text and large headlines. It was the baseball 
scores and the "gossip of the ringside," along 
with the minor delight of the comic pictures, 
that made this sheet dear to Johnny, and he sat 
poring over these while he ate his supper. 

On the front sheet of that part of the paper 
for which Johnny, save in a bored emergency, 



JUST FOLKS 241 

had no use, particularly large headlines in black 
and in red stared at Mary as she laid down his 
plate. 

"What do thim large letters say?" she in- 
quired, pointing to them. Experience had taught 
her that they usually bespoke a sensation out of 
the ordinary. 

With a " What's-the-use ?" expression, Johnny 
laid down his vital statistics and cast an 
"easy-reading eye" on the headlines. "It 
say: 'Awful Mine Horror. Four Hundred 
Miners En — En— '" 

"In what?" 

"In nothin' — I can't make it out — en — " 

Mary looked at her son. "Johnny Casey, 
d'ye mane t' till me that you can't rade printin' 
the size o' that — an' you been to school these 
siven er eight years ?" 

"Aw," said Johnny, " I kin rade the letters, 
a' right, but I don't know what they mane. 
E— N— T— O— M— B— E— D." 

"Well, no more do I. What do it say nixt ?" 

" — in a burnin' mine. Four hundred miners 
somethin' in a burnin' mine." 

" Fer th' love o' God ! Wheer ? " 

Johnny looked. "Why, at that place wheer 
Pa be," he said, and went on to read out, rather 
laboriously, the first, generally descriptive lines 
about the catastrophe. 

Mary's face blanched with horror as he read 



242 JUST FOLKS 

of the miners trapped in the crypt-like chambers 
and passageways of the blazing mine; of the 
frantic women and children gathered at the 
mine's mouth ; and of the deadly gases that 
drove back daring rescuers. 

"Think o' that, now!" she said, "an' thank 
God yer pa work wid th' blissid sky above 
'im!" 

Dewey came in from his play in the street, 
for a moment, and stood listening. Little Annie, 
conscious of something unusual, clutched at her 
mother's skirts. 

Johnny, loving the intentness of his audience, 
read on ; read how, in the face of almost certain 
death, a few rescuers had finally gone down into 
the mine; how, before going, they had written 
brief notes of farewell and left them to be de- 
livered if the rescuers perished with them they 
sought to save. 

At this point, Mary cried out inarticulately, 
but in unmistakable anguish. Johnny stopped 
reading and looked at her inquiringly. 

"If — if yer pa was wan o' thim," she said. 

Johnny turned again to his paper. "Aw," 
he answered, in a manner meant to be re- 
assuring, "Pa wouldn' go down in no burnin' 



mine." 



"Hold yer tongue agin yer pa !" his mother 
ordered him, grasping him by the shoulders and 
shaking him resentfully. "Theer's manny that 



JUST FOLKS 243 

ain't got the courage t' live as they ought, 
that's got the courage t' die brave an' splindid. 
Look sharp, now, an' see if it don't till who those 
min were." 

Johnny looked, but nowhere was the name 
Casey to be seen. In fact, few names of any 
kind appeared in the account, which was rushed 
on to the wires too soon after the breaking out 
of the fire to make any details possible. 

But Mary was not consoled. "I've a feelin'," 
she insisted, "that he's wan o' thim. Iver since 
I know yer pa I've ixpicted 'im t' do somethin' 
like it. Fer ivry girl do drame of a hero, an' 
ivry bride do t'ink she's gittin' wan. An' whin 
the years wint by, an' yer pa didn' give no life- 
like riprisintation of a hero, I niver los' faith in 
'im altogither. 'He'll do it yit,' I'd always say 
t' mesilf. 'Some heroes makes theer chances, 
an' some has t' wait till theer chance come. 
He's evidently wan o' thim that have t' wait. 
Don't you niver give 'im up fer good,' I'd till 
mesilf, 'until you know he's had his chance an' 
hasn' took it.' If he was workin' theer, close by 
that mine wheer thim poor min was shut in an' 
burnin' t' death, he's gon' down t' bring thim 
up — you mark me words ! God know the fear 
that's in me heart this minute ! But God know, 
too, the worse than fear that would be theer if 
I had t' belave me Patsy'd had his chance an 
hadn' took it!" 



244 JUST FOLKS 

That was a night of vigil in the Casey home. 
The children slept, as children can; but Mary 
sat in her black kitchen the long night through 
— fearful, triumphant ; thinking, thinking. 

When her window-pane paled to gray, she 
opened the back door softly, and stole out to 
the corner to look for a paper. But it was too 
early for newsboys or for those little shops which 
sold papers on Blue Island Avenue. So Mary 
went back and waited. If there was one thing 
life had taught her even more perfectly than 
many others, it was to wait. At six o'clock 
she went to the corner again and found a 
boy. 

Back in her kitchen she spread the paper out 
and looked at the pictures which were self- 
evidently about that part of it wherein her in- 
terest centred. Then, unable to wait longer, 
she woke Johnny and brought him, rubbing his 
eyes sleepily, out to the kitchen to tell her 
what it said. 

Johnny doused his face with cold water at 
the sink, and that helped a little. But when he 
turned to the paper he was dismayed. "Theer's 
pages an' pages about it," he said. 

"I'd like t' hear it all," his mother replied 
wistfully, a but can't ye fin' that place first 
wheer it till about thim riscuers ?" 

Johnny didn't know if he could, but he'd try. 
He bent over the outspread sheets and scanned 



JUST FOLKS 245 

the columns anxiously. Mary's patient inten- 
sity was pitiful to see. 

Finally, "Here it is," he said. Mary's heart 
seemed to stop beating. "'No word of the 
brave rescuers who went down into the burning 
mine has come to the surface since they made 
their daring descent, and it is feared all have 
perished.'" Mary moaned. "'As nearly all the 
able-bodied men in town were in the mine at 
the time of the accident, the rescuers were re- 
cruited mainly from the workmen engaged in 
building the new C. and C. bridge over the Sand- 
stone River at Monovia.'" 

"What'dltillye?" she cried. 

"'Among these,'" read Johnny, and spelled 
out several names ; then, with a queer little cry 
that was half pride and half despair, he pointed 
with his forefinger to the place, as if thus to 
verify what he read: '"Patrick Casey, of Chi- 
cago — 21 Henry Street — who was employed 
as a stone-cutter on the C. and C. bridge.'" 

He looked up at his mother. The other 
children had been wakened, had got out of bed, 
and were standing about her, looking at her too. 
They had seen their mother meet many an 
emergency, but they had never seen her look 
like this. Her stooping figure seemed straight- 
ened ; there was a flush in her thin, sallow 
cheeks ; tears were dropping from her eyes, but 
underneath the tears her eyes flashed. She 



246 JUST FOLKS 

reached down and snatched up Annie and 
strained the child to her bosom with a splendid 
passion of maternity. 

"Childern," she said, and her voice broke in 
sobs that had, somehow, a note of triumph in 
them, " down on yer knees, an' ivry wan av us'll 
pray th' Blissid Vargin t' presarve yer father — 
that's a — hero." 

Before breakfast was well over, all that part 
of Henry Street which can read newspapers, 
and all that part which can understand if it 
cannot read English, knew about Pa Casey; 
and a steady stream of curious and sympathiz- 
ing callers flowed along the narrow passageway 
between the Caseys' tenement and the one next 
door. Most of them were dumfounded at what 
they saw. Mary's spirit had communicated 
itself to her children, and there was none of 
that loud lamentation which Henry Street had 
expected, and hoped, to see and hear. It was 
an awed and quiet household. Tears welled 
frequently in every eye — especially when neigh- 
bors who were bent on excitement and disap- 
pointed at finding none sought to create it by 
dwelling on what must be the horrors of that 
death in a pit of flames, which was Pa's death 
— but, following Mary's example, even the 
children wiped them silently away. 

"She took it awful calm," criticised one neigh- 
bor, coming away. "I don' b'leeve she care much." 



JUST FOLKS 247 

"Well," reminded another, a trifle more in- 
clined to charity, "he was small good t' her er 
anny wan. Maybe 'tis kind of a relafe he's 
gon\" 

Nobody seemed to understand — Mary's own 
kin as little as the rest — but the sympathy 
that helped most, next to Beth's, came from 
some of the Russian Jew women who had them- 
selves known the horror of an awful death for 
those they loved, in Kishinev and Kief. 

Mary's sister Maggie and her husband, Tim 
Kavanagh, were early on the scene, trying to 
make Mary see how she wouldn't be much worse 
off, "whin Mikey git out ; an' now that Johnny'll 
soon be able t' git a stiddy job." 

Once, something blazed in Mary's eyes for a 
moment ; she was almost on the point of trying 
to tell these Kavanaghs. But the hopelessness 
of making them understand, caused her to hold 
her tongue. 

It was when the reporters began coming that 
Mary gave the shock of their lives to the Kava- 
naghs. "The account o' Pat Casey she gave 
to those min, was somethin' ye wouldn' belave" 
as Tim Kavanagh said, in telling about it after- 
wards, to Pete Foley. 

Hart Ferris explained to her how, if her hus- 
band's body was recovered, it might not be 
known for his unless she could help to identify 
it. He said he would send word to her, as soon 



248 JUST FOLKS 

as it came into the newspaper offices, when any- 
bodies were recovered, but that probably she 
could never get her husband's remains unless 
she could pick them out from among the heaps 
of unidentified dead. 

"Sure, I could niver git to — that place, 
wheeriver it is," she said. 

"We'll fix that !" he told her. And "fix it" 
he did. The evening's paper contained descrip- 
tions of the Casey home that set Henry Street 
agog with interest — some proud, some full of 
contemptuous dissent — and subscriptions to 
help send Mary Casey to Monovia poured in 
generously. Yes, and many callers came — 
some, as Johnny said, "jest t' rubber" and a 
few to offer assistance. 

There was one subject Mary was careful not 
to mention to any reporter — and that was 
Mikey in the reform school. "'Tis few, ye 
might say, that know 'bout it," she explained 
to Beth, "an' the fewer the better for Mikey 
whin 'tis all past an' behint him." But she 
stole away to the School (which was less than 
two miles away), and on telling her story to the 
sympathetic warden, got permission to see 
Mikey — not in the wire cage where visiting 
was usually permitted, but in the warden's 
private office. 

"Ye've t'ought hard o' yer pa, manny times, 
Mikey bye," she said; "an' often I couldn' 



JUST FOLKS 249 

r'ally blame ye. But ye kin hoi' up yer hid 
about 'im, now ! He've done gran' by ye at 
last, Mikey ! He've lift ye a name ye kin be 
proud of !" 

It was days before the flames in that vast 
pit of death were subdued ; days before word 
came to Mary Casey that bodies were being 
brought up, and that she would best hasten 
to Monovia to see if she could identify her 
husband. 

Tim Kavanagh thought he should go — "bein' 
the man o' the fam'ly." But he shrank from 
before the furious refusal in Mary's eyes and 
in her scant figure with its new erectness and 
command. u Fm the man o' this fam'ly, now," 
she said. And Tim withdrew. 

In one of his pockets, Pa Casey always carried 
a bit of Colorado goldstone, picked up on some 
of his vagrant wanderings. It was a topic for 
frequent conversation, because when things 
"wint bad," Pa would descant on what things 
might be if he could only get back to the 
country " wheer a man can pick up the like o' 
this off the ground." Sometimes he encountered 
a scoffer, who tried to explain that the shining 
particles were not gold ; but Pa never believed 
him — his faith in his El Dorado remained 
unshaken to the end. It was by the bit of 
goldstone that Mary identified him ; not even 



2SO JUST FOLKS 

the fires of that Inferno had destroyed its 
shining. 

When they gave Mary the letter he had left 
for her — the hastily-scrawled note of farewell 
written at the mouth of the burning mine — she 
admitted to no one that she could not read it, 
but carried it in her bosom until she got home. 

There, standing beside his father's coffin as 
she directed him, Mikey, who had been allowed 
to go to his father's funeral, broke the seal of the 
dirty envelope and read. The start for the 
church would be made presently; this was 
their last time together as a family. All the 
mourning for Patsy which had grown rusty, was 
re-dipped ; and in the pitiful little parlie there 
seemed only black and white ; black shadows 
(for it was a drear, rainy day), and black clothes, 
and black casket ; and white faces, and white 
candles, and white flowers. 

With choking voice, Mikey began to read : — 

" 'Dear Mamie' " — it was the name he had 
called her by in their courting days, before she 
became just "yer ma" — "'Dear Mamie an' 
the Kids. If this ever gits to you I guess you'll 
know why I rote it. The wives an kids of them 
fellows down there is standin at the mouth If it 
was youse I hope some one would go down fer 
me. Goodby. If I come up alive I'm goin to do 
better by you. Love to all. 

"'Patsy.'" 



JUST FOLKS 251 

When he finished, they were all sobbing. 
Mary reached for the letter and returned it to 
her bosom. 

"Thank God fer yer chance, Patsy bye!" 
she said, her face uplifted and her eyes shining. 



XIII 

While the Caseys were burying Pa, the Slin- 
skys were made distraught by the serious illness 
of Jacob. "Pneumonia," the doctor said, and 
advised the hospital. 

Mrs. Slinsky, when the hospital was men- 
tioned, fell heavily into a kitchen chair, lifted 
her apron to her face, and began to weep violently. 
Her mother, acute terror writ in every feature, 
tugged at the weeping woman's sleeve, begging, 
in Yiddish, to be told what was going to happen ; 
when Dinah explained to her, the grandmother 
beat her withered breasts, then covered with her 
shawl her be-wigged head and gave way to woe 
unspeakable. 

Dinah motioned the doctor out into the hall. 
"They do not understand," she explained, "they 
fear the hospital as the place where people go 
only to die. I will try to explain." 

"You must do it quickly, then. Every hour 
counts, in pneumonia. And your father is a 
delicate man — if the pneumonia does not carry 
him off now, it may easily turn to consumption 
and put him to a lingering death. He must have 
nursing ; he must have many things that he can- 

252 



JUST FOLKS 253 

not have here. You understand ; you explain it 
to them." 

When he was gone, Dinah knocked at Liza 
Allen's door and asked to speak to Beth who, 
fortunately, was in. Dinah told their trouble 
and asked if Beth thought it would be im- 
posing on Mrs. Brent's goodness to telephone 
her and ask her to come over. 

"Not at all," said Beth, "I'm sure she would 
want to know. I'll go up to the drug store and 
'phone her." 

In an hour Eleanor Brent was there, pleading 
with Mrs. Slinsky about the hospital, trying to 
describe its advantages, its beneficence, to tell 
her how persons of the very greatest wealth 
gladly went from their splendid homes to the 
hospitals and paid big sums to get nursing no 
better than Jacob Slinsky might have for no 
charge at all. 

"I think I can get him into the Presbyterian 
Hospital," Eleanor said. "They are very 
crowded, but I'll try — if you'll let me. He'll 
almost certainly die, here. In pneumonia it is 
so hard to breathe — as you hear ! He must 
have lots of pure air, and your bedroom is so 
small and close — not much air comes in. If 
you keep him here, and he dies, think how you 
will always reproach yourself ! But if you give 
him his chance to live — " 

Thus entreated, Mrs. Slinsky at length con- 



254 JUST FOLKS 

sented, and Eleanor went away to make arrange- 
ments. 

The arrival of the ambulance created intense 
excitement in Maxwell Street, and before the 
attendants had reached the top of the stairs with 
the stretcher on which Jacob was to be taken 
away, the doorway and the sidewalk were 
thronged, and curious heads hung out of every 
window that permitted a view. 

Patient, gentle, resigned, Jacob was an entirely 
passive factor in the scene. Sarah wept hysteri- 
cally. Abe strove manfully to be brave and to 
comfort his mother. Dinah showed a beautiful 
heroism. But the little grandmother, at sight 
of her beloved son-in-law being carried away 
by strange, uniformed men, uttered one scream 
of heart-broken protest and fell to the floor. 

Picking her up and carrying her into the room 
where she slept with the two girls, created a 
distraction which eased the terrible tension of 
those moments when the stretcher-bearers were 
slowly making their way with their burden 
down the steep, dark stairs and out through the 
close-pressing crowds about the door. But long 
after the ambulance had driven away, the 
distressing moans, the guttural, unintelligible 
sounds, issued from that little room where 
Mrs. Slinsky and her mother were. 

"Can't you comfort your grandmother?" 
Eleanor entreated of Dinah. 



JUST FOLKS 255 

"I will try again," said Dinah, bravely, "but 
it is hard. In Poland she suffered so much, she 
cannot understand how it is different here, nor 
why men come to take my dear father away." 

When Jacob had been gone for time long 
enough to see him settled at the hospital, 
Eleanor ventured on something which might, 
she hoped, lessen the reign of terror in the 
Slinsky home : she took Mrs. Slinsky over to 
the hospital, made a specially strong plea to the 
Superintendent, and got permission for Jacob's 
wife to see him for a moment and so feel assured 
that he was being well cared for. 

Up in the elevator, and along the wide corridors 
with the shining oaken floors, they went. It 
was a bright, warm, gloriously sunny day — 
one of those wherewith March often tricks 
Chicago into believing spring has come, only 
to undeceive her later with long weeks of belated 
blustering. Eleanor had pointed out to Mrs. 
Slinsky as they came, how fortunate they were 
to have such a day for Jacob's removal. She 
felt doubly grateful that on a day like this Mrs. 
Slinsky was come to get her first impressions of 
a hospital. Floods of sunshine were everywhere, 
and accentuated the shining cleanliness, the 
large, comfortable rooms, the airiness and the 
quiet. Mrs. Slinsky was impressed by the evi- 
dent willingness of such patients as she saw — 



256 JUST FOLKS 

convalescents, mostly — to be there; by the 
competent look of the nurses ; and by the 
unmistakably happy relations between the sick 
and those who cared for them. Eleanor's in- 
fluence with the hospital authorities was suffi- 
ciently strong to get her permission to take Mrs. 
Slinsky to the children's ward, where she saw 
the little things for whom so much had been 
done. This ward always abounds in stories of 
child patients who were loath to go home; 
and Mrs. Slinsky could almost understand why, 
when she saw how happy they were there. 

Then they went to see Jacob. Fortified by all 
these comforting impressions, his wife was able 
to speak a reassuring word to him and to come 
away herself reassured. 

When they got back to Maxwell Street and had 
climbed the dark stairs to the Slinskys' rooms, 
Eleanor hoped Mrs. Slinsky was struck, as 
she was, by the tremendous contrast between 
them and those big, airy, sun-flooded rooms to 
which Jacob had been removed for his life's 
saving. Not a window in this place had been 
opened for months, probably ; and if any of the 
rays of March sunshine had struggled down over 
the roof of the next building on the west, and 
into the tiny court, and come a-seeking, merci- 
fully, at the one window in the Slinskys' kitchen, 
they could not — it seemed — have forced their 
beneficent way through the grime with which 



JUST FOLKS 257 

that window was "opaqued." Eleanor longed 
to speak of air, but dared not. She wondered 
how Dinah stood the daily change from the big, 
gray building on the Lake Front, with its galleries 
of lovely things and its air of order and rest- 
fulness, to this clutter and dirt and unloveli- 
ness. For the grandmother and for the mother, 
it was all right, perhaps ; they knew no better, 
nor cared to know. But Dinah, with her love 
of beauty ! Eleanor shuddered to think of the 
girl's daily home-comings, and of her long even- 
ings spent here, trying to sketch the old, be- 
wigged grandmother, and the mother, moving 
heavily about and "spilling tears." 

Dinah had done what she could, while her 
mother and Eleanor were gone, to put the place 
to rights. It had been a relief to gather up the 
unwashed dishes, to pick up the aprons and 
other clothing dropped in the abandonment 
of woe and left to lie where they fell. 

She had even succeeded in quieting the old 
grandmother; but on Mrs. Slinsky's return, 
her mother's lamentations broke out afresh and 
were silenced only by a long account, in Yiddish, 
of the pleasant place their dear Jacob was in ; 
even after all was told, though, the old woman 
shook ominously her black-wigged head. 

" She can't believe," said Mrs. Slinsky ; " always 
she is remembering Poland and our sufferings." 

"You suffered much, there ?" Eleanor asked. 



258 JUST FOLKS 

"Oh, yes — much ! To learn to read, it was 
forbidden. To go out of our village was not 
allowed. Should a girl come out of her village 
for any reason, and go back, she's branded 
as — as one that has no shame. In nothing 
is freedom — in everything is oppression. And 
'the Little Father' some do call the Tsar!" 

"Perhaps he doesn't know — he sits so high 
up in his great palaces he cannot realize," sug- 
gested Eleanor. 

She was startled by the vehemence of the 
flaccid woman before her. "But he should 
know !" Mrs. Slinsky cried. "That is what his 
business is — he should know ! In my country is 
legend of a king. He was very great, rich king 
and his people was very poor and suffered much, 
so that after while his heart was touched, and 
he had wish to help. But what to do he could 
not tell — he knows so little what poor peoples 
need. So he thinks very hard. Most of his 
men what he has to help him, think poor people 
should be poor — that is all they are worthy 
of ; and nobody knows how to tell that king 
what he shall do. But he has one chief man 
he loves ; that man is good man at heart. So 
the king send rough soldiers, one night, and take 
that good man and drag him from his family 
and send him into exile. And the soldiers tell 
that man the king has take all his possessions 
away — everything ; and that he will not see 



JUST FOLKS 259 

his wife or children or his old father and mother, 
any more. And they take that good man and 
cast him on little island where is nobody, and 
where he cannot come away, and where he 
must get with his own hands fire to keep from 
freezing and food to keep from starving. And 
the king leaves him so, for three years, to 
wonder why he is treated this way. Then the 
king sends for him and gives him back all that 
he had, and says : 'Now you shall help me to do 
good. You know how it is to suffer like poor 
peoples suffer.' And that good man could 
help the king, and it was wonderful time in 
Poland for poor peoples. If the Tsar wanted, 
he could help. Maybe he couldn't go himself to 
learn ; but he could send." 

"And that king, too, sent his best," Eleanor 
murmured, deeply moved. 

Dinah followed her into the dark hall, when 
she came away, and closing the kitchen door 
behind them, said: "Perhaps you have not 
thought, my dear, dear friend, but with my 
father's illness, our — our living stops. There 
is only one thing to do ; I must get work. 
Abe finishes High School this year — he must 
not stop now. I cannot earn much, perhaps, 
but I can do something so we can live; and 
my .mother will sew a little. If you should 
hear of anything that I can do — or if Miss 
Tully should— " 



26o JUST FOLKS 

"I'll try — I'll ask her, too, Dinah, dear," 
Eleanor assured her; and bent, in the black 
hall, to kiss Dinah's sweet, patient face — glad 
of the darkness in which Dinah could not see her 
tears. 

"I'll see now if Miss Tully's home," she 
said ; and knocked on Liza's door as Dinah 
re-opened hers. 

Beth was not there just then, but Liza expected 
her at any minute and she urged Mrs. Brent to 
wait. Sunshine was pouring in the two south 
windows of Liza's front room, and the atmos- 
phere — if not quite like that of Eleanor's 
home — was very bearable and a most grateful 
change from that of the Slinskys' kitchen. 

Adam was at home — he was usually at home 
— snugly ensconced beside the kitchen stove; 
and he and Liza abundantly entertained Eleanor 
while Beth tarried. 

Finally, when she could wait no longer, Elea- 
nor left with Liza her message for Beth about 
Dinah, and went on her way to see what she 
herself could do. 

The mystery of Eleanor's "man" and why 
he had been such a tragic disappointment, gave 
Liza and Adam great concern. 

"Don't seem like she could have give him 
much of a trial," said Liza, that evening after 
Beth had returned and been given an account 



JUST FOLKS 261 

of Eleanor's visit, "fer, land sakes ! she ain't 
nothin' but a child, yet ! " 

"It doesn't take a lifetime to find out some 
mistakes," suggested Beth. "I guess when a 
girl like Eleanor builds a lovely dream about 
some one, and it is shattered — " 

"Oh, shucks!" declared Liza, "life ain't 
no dream. What's all her eddication fer, an' 
her furrin travel, an' all that, if it don't teach 
her what I learned 'thout ever comin' out o' 
Steuben ville : that gittin' married's a serious 
business. Men wa'n't made t' dream about; 
they was made t' develop woman's Christian 
characters." 

Adam received this thrust, which he knew was 
intended for him, with beautiful complacency; 
there was no role he liked so well as that of the 
"gay Ontario." 

"Then I s'pose," he ventured, after due time 
to think out his retort, "that them women 
that marries awful late in life, has got dreadful 
backward Christian characters." 

Liza bristled, even beyond his hopes. "Don't 
you ever believe it!" she cried. "There's 
more ways, an' better ones, of findin' out what 
men is, than bein' tied to one poor specimen — 
on'y some women never finds 'em." 

"Not if they kin find the specimen," Adam 
chuckled. 

At this point, Beth thought it wise to inter- 



262 JUST FOLKS 

vene. "I can't see," she said musingly, "how 
there could be any kind of man who could live 
with a girl like Eleanor Brent and not be up- 
lifted by her." 

"That's just it, I bet ye!" Adam opined. 
"She's prob'ly too durned upliftin' fer any 
mortal use. I know them women !" 

"You !" Liza snorted unbelievingly. 

"Yes, me! There's more ways, an' better 
ones, of findin' out what women is, than bein' 
tied to one poor specimen." 

Thus the speculations raged, beginning with 
Eleanor, but always intensely personal in their 
final results — just as least and greatest of us 
philosophizes upon the world at large with spe- 
cial reference to the world within ourselves. 

Beth was only amused at the conjectures of 
Adam, and even of Liza. But she was a little 
nettled to find that Hart Ferris inclined to take a 
somewhat similar view of Eleanor's probable case. 

"I don't know where 'the shine' of her life, 
as you call it, went to," he ventured to say, 
"but I'd like to bet that it's lurking somewhere 
where she could whistle it back if she would — 
and she wonH." 

"Why, Hart Ferris!" 

"Well, I don't mean to be ungallant, Beth 
dear, but them's my honest sentiments. I 
haven't seen much of the kind of lovely lady that's 
too good for this naughty world — my lines 



JUST FOLKS 263 

haven't fallen in the places she frequents — but 
I've heard about her, and read about her. And 
I know she collects a lot of sympathy in excess 
of what she deserves. Mary Casey stacks up 
much, much bigger with me. Do you remember 
what she said when you told her about Adam and 
Liza ? ' I belave 'tis in the nature of ivry woman 
t' want a man t' try her hand on. All of us be- 
laves oursilves born min-tamers, an' none of us 
iver loses the notion — though some kapes tryin' 
diffrunt min, lookin' fer success wid wan out 
o' the lot, an' some kapes tryin' the same man 
over an over, same as me.' I'm old-fashioned, 
maybe, but the longer I live and the more I 
see of the world, the bigger she looks to me — 
that woman who 'kapes tryin' 3 her one man, 
over and over, same as Mary Casey." 

Beth made no reply. She pretended to her- 
self that it was because of the uselessness of 
argument. But really it was because she had 
nothing to say. 

It was not easy, finding work for Dinah ; but 
Eleanor had not expected that it would be, and 
she was not daunted by the difficulty. By dint 
of great diplomacy, she managed to get Dinah 
to accept from her a small loan which she was 
to pay back in small weekly instalments out of 
her wages when she got work; and this pro- 
vided for the family's immediate necessities. 



264 JUST FOLKS 

It might have been a little easier to get some 
simple manual thing for Dinah to do at home 

— she did, indeed, help her mother with the 
"finishing" Mrs. Slinsky did for sweatshops — 
but Eleanor was intensely anxious to see if 
something could not be found for Dinah that 
would enable her to earn, and still not slam too 
rudely in her face all those doors to long vistas 
of beauty, through which she had peered so 
wistfully these last months. 

At length the way opened, quite wonderfully, 
it seemed. A friend of Eleanor's who did most 
exquisite bookbinding and other art work in 
leathers, offered to take Dinah as an apprentice ; 
to teach her design, the use of color, and other 
excellent things which, mastered, command a 
good recompense and give an artist-craftsman's 
joy. Dinah was to stay in the studio and, in 
the absence of the artist, to answer the tele- 
phone, receive parcels, and otherwise provide 
against the possible loss of being called upon 
and found not at home. Also, she was to do 
anything helpful that she could do about the 
studio at any time. And the artist, who could 
easily have got without pay an apprentice from 
among the hundreds of well-to-do girls who as- 
pired to learn her art, was willing to disregard 
that fact and pay Dinah a small weekly wage 

— more than she could possibly have earned at 
any of the employments for which she was now 



JUST FOLKS 265 

fitted. This was a principle, with Dinah's new 
friend. She believed in gleanings, not in dole; 
in leaving some of her harvest to be gathered, 
self-respectingly, by the needy, rather than in 
reaping it all herself and handing back a tithe 
of it in demeaning charity. Dinah was exceed- 
ingly fortunate to enlist the interest of this 
splendid woman. She did not know, of course, 
about the "gleanings" — was not aware that 
the offer of wages was unusual — but she did 
know that the opportunity was a fine one, and 
she was intensely grateful. In the studio she 
would encounter many charming and clever 
people, would hear such talk as delighted her, 
and be in a way, almost as much as in the 
Art Institute, to realize many of her fondest 
dreams. 

"You have no idea," she said lovingly to 
Eleanor, "how you have transformed my life, 
and life for us all. There used to be nothing to 
expect — almost nothing to hope. I was afraid 
to look ahead, to think of the future. Now, it 
is all so different. Every day I wake with a 
glad feeling, for I cannot tell what sweet surprise 
the day will bring." 

But alas for the best-laid plans ! Dinah had 
been in the studio less than a week when the 
sword fell. On Friday afternoons, after dark, 
her employer laid work aside and served tea to 
her friends. She asked some help of Dinah — 



266 JUST FOLKS 

something about lighting the charcoal fire in the 
samovar. 

Dinah's face flushed, and her eyes spoke keen 
distress. "I — I — it is the Shabbas," she fal- 
tered; "we are forbidden — " 

" The what?" 

Dinah explained. 

"And to-morrow ?" 

"To-morrow I must not do any work. I am 
so sorry — I ought to have thought about it 
before — but I forgot — I was so happy — and 
I am used only to those who understand our 
religion." 

"I, too, am sorry, Dinah; but I think you'll 
find that you can't get on this way. If you are 
content to stay in the Ghetto, you may keep 
your orthodoxy. But if you want to come out, 
to enter the big other world, you must meet 
it on its own terms. You — you — pardon me, 
but you have much against you, at best. And 
you make your way so much, much harder by 
insisting on practices that are not sacred in the 
world you want to enter. Now, if you feel that 
you cannot change — " 

"Oh, I couldn't," pleaded Dinah, in an awed 
tone but with vehement conviction, "it would 
break my parents' hearts. And we — you see 
they try to be very, very strict about the laws, 
because they feel that at some time they must 
have given offence, and I — am their Judgment." 



JUST FOLKS 267 

"I feel ashamed that I let her go," the artist 
said afterwards to Eleanor, "but that awful in- 
flexibility just 'got my dander up.' There's 
no use trying ! With all the obstacles she has 
that cannot be overcome, she will go on creating 
others for herself with her beliefs. The kindest 
thing I can do, I daresay, is to let her forget her 
art dreams and work out her own salvation 
according to her law." 

Eleanor was inclined to tenderness for Dinah 
until she encountered the rigidity of opinion in 
the Slinsky household. "They will let her 
sacrifice everything to their Shabbas," she com- 
plained bitterly to Beth, "and I don't see how 
any of us can hope to help her against such 
fanatical unyieldingness." 

Beth also tried to talk to Dinah and to the 
Slinskys, but with only the same results. 

In deep distress, Dinah went to Eleanor to 
make plain to that dear friend how appreciative 
she was of the happiness offered her and which 
she felt she could not accept. And Eleanor was 
melted by the girl's evident heroism. 

"Dinah dear," she said, "I am afraid life is 
going to be terribly hard for you. Happiness 
does not come to us on our own terms. We have 
to reach out after it and grasp it where it lies." 

"Perhaps," Dinah ventured, "it is not in- 
tended that we should be happy — only that we 
should be good." 



268 JUST FOLKS 

"That," said Eleanor, proudly, "is the differ- 
ence between your faith and mine. I be- 
lieve — " this was, though Eleanor was not con- 
scious of it at the moment, the first time in her 
life she had formulated her credo — "that Love 
came to transform the old, hard law, and make 
happiness not only possible, but an obligation." 

When Dinah got up to go, her problem was 
not solved, but she felt, somehow, stronger and 
better able to meet it. "You help me so much," 
she told Eleanor, at parting, "I wish I could 
help you a little." 

"It helps me to be able to help you," Eleanor 
assured her. 

"But that is not finding your happiness — 
that is only learning to get along without it." 

Eleanor looked pensive. "Perhaps that was 
all that was meant for me," she said softly. 

Dinah looked up into her face and smiled — 
a respectful but rather inscrutable little smile. 
"Perhaps you, too," she said, "even in your 
religion, say that too easily." 

Eleanor did not answer, then. But after 
Dinah was gone, she sat for a long while, look- 
ing into the red heart of her log fire. And it 
might have been an hour later when she said 
aloud, "Perhaps I do" — and sat down to her 
desk to write a letter. 

It was the next day that Dinah's erstwhile 
employer came to see Eleanor. "I've been 



JUST FOLKS 269 

thinking," she said, and smiled whimsically at 
her own slowness in thinking it, "that I was 
quite as inflexible as Dinah, with far less reason. 
It wouldn't have hurt me, or even have incon- 
venienced me, much, to respect her faith; and 
it would have hurt her terribly to disregard it. 
I — I wonder if she would forgive me and con- 
sider coming back to me." 

"I think she would," replied Eleanor, "and 
if, as time goes on, she comes to feel that any of 
the tenets of her faith are non-essential, I be- 
lieve she will be quick to compromise. But she 
could never be a real artist of any sort if she were 
not true to her faith. What a problem life is, 
isn't it ? And how we have to learn, each of us, 
to grow more and more exacting only about 
ourselves, and more and more tenderly unexact- 
ing of other people. Dinah has taught me a 
great deal." 

To Dinah, a week later — to Dinah, back in 
the loved studio — Eleanor wrote : — 

"You don't know how I needed you, Dinah 
dear. You have opened my eyes to many 
things and, among them, to my own happiness. 
'The shine' has come back into my life — only 
tenfold more glorious — and I think it has come 
to stay. If it does, I have you to thank." 

"Isn't it wonderful," said Dinah when she 
had read this letter to Jacob, convalescing in 



270 JUST FOLKS 

the hospital, "how God has made the world so 
that we are necessary to one another, and even 
the — the littlest can help the strong and 
lovely!" 

Jacob Slinsky's fine face lighted with a look 
of tenderness, and he reached out and patted 
Dinah's stubby little hands. 

"Father," whispered Dinah, "do you believe 
that I am — short, because God was angry ? 
Or do you think that maybe sometimes he makes 
us so in — in Love ?" 

"I think, my Dinah," Jacob Slinsky answered, 
"that — that only for Love God gave you to 
us." 

And the sunshine, pouring in life-giving floods 
about Jacob as he sat in his wheel-chair, seemed 
to his sensitive soul to have a fainter radiance 
than Dinah's face as she raised it to kiss him 
good-by. 



XIV 

Mikey returned to the John Worthy School 
immediately after his father's funeral ; but 
Beth, when she went back with him, told the 
Superintendent all the details of the case. 

Hitherto, even in the family's direst need, 
she had hesitated to ask Mikey's release; be- 
cause she knew how hard for him conditions at 
home would be, and doubted his ability to en- 
dure them and withstand the temptations of 
"de gang." 

But now, if his indeterminate sentence could 
be terminated (on her petition, through the 
Juvenile Court, and the sanction of the reform 
school superintendent) Mikey could go home 
and not be fretted by having his pa to support. 
There would be hard conditions for him to face, 
but he would not be embittered by having to 
give his earnings to provide his pa with money 
for drinks and with leisure to keep his feet in the 
oven. 

There had been a desperate antagonism be- 
tween Mikey and his pa — an antagonism that 
was not greatly softened by Pa's tragic end. 
But now that Pa was gone, it might be that 

271 



272 JUST FOLKS 

the responsibility awaiting Mikey in Henry 
Street would be "the making of him." 

The Superintendent thought it might. He 
was a man of transcendent kindliness — to 
many of his prisoners the best friend that they 
had ever known. He made it truly a "house of 
correction" — that great institution over which 
he ruled, and which he preferred to have thus 
designated rather than by the term Bridewell 
which has become approbrious since the gentle 
boy-king, Edward VI, set apart the stately 
palace by St. Bride's Well for the correctional 
care of the sin-sick — and he held his responsible 
office in a way that was a credit to Christian 
civilization. 

Accordingly, Beth made her plea for Mikey's 
release, and he was taken into the Juvenile 
Court to receive the termination of his sentence. 

When told that he was free, Mikey seemed 
reluctant to go. Beth thought she understood. 
Mikey was afraid of a demonstrative welcome 
from his mother — afraid he might break down 
under it; and he was afraid to face Henry 
Street. 

He hung around Beth until her court duties 
were over, then walked with her south on Hal- 
sted Street and west to Waller. At her corner 
she hesitated. 

"Shall I go with you, Mikey — would you 
rather — ?" she asked appealingly. 



JUST FOLKS 273 

"Naw," said Mikey, gruffly, "I mane, no'm, 
I t'ank ye." And in an instant he was gone. 

Beth saw him pull his hat low over his eyes, 
and turn up his coat collar, after he left her. 
Her heart ached for him, but she knew no one 
could help him through this trial. That was the 
great pity of it ! What actually happened to 
Mikey in " de bean house" was as humane, as 
beneficent, as gently correctional as it could 
well be; but the stigma of having been under 
restraint remained. Mikey went home by way 
of the alley. Mrs. Riordan was on her back 
porch, and saw him. 

"That Casey bye have got out o' jail," she 
announced to her family when they were 
assembled at supper, "an' I'll lick the first 
wan o' youse kids that have annythin' t 9 do 
wid him." 

In the Casey kitchen, Mary Casey was bak- 
ing potato cakes on the stove-lids, in lieu of a 
griddle — Mikey was "awful fond" of potato 
cakes — and on a high cake dish of red and 
white glass which had been procured with many 
trading stamps and was the glory of the house- 
hold, was a heap of dainties known as Bismarcks 
— something like a cruller with the hole left 
out and a splash of red jelly inside — which 
Mikey preferred even over and above lemon 
cream pie. 

When the kitchen door opened and Mary 



274 JUST FOLKS 

saw her boy, she smothered the cry of joy that 
rose to her lips and spoke with a fine casualness 
to the returned one, whose frame of mind seemed 
to convey itself at once to her quick understand- 
ing. 

"An' how are you ?" she asked, when he had 
hung up his hat and set himself down in the 
old rocker. Her tone and her manner were such 
as she might have used toward a traveller fresh 
from some splendid journey. 

"A' right," said Mikey, briefly. He had 
noted the potato cakes and the Bismarcks in 
the red glass dish — and he understood. 

One by one the other Caseys came in. Evi- 
dently they were all acting under instructions 
— not to say threats — from their ma ; for not 
one of them alluded in the remotest way to 
"de bean house," although no command could 
keep out of their round, wondering eyes the un- 
certainty as to how their Mikey would seem, 
after this strange ordeal he had been through. 

Mikey was much sobered by it. But, truth 
to tell, Mikey had not needed sobering so much 
as he had needed some other things ; for he was 
always a dogged rather than a profligate young 
person. 

Perhaps only a mother-love could feel what 
Mikey needed. Certainly the Law had not ; or, 
if it had felt the need, it had done nothing ade- 
quate to meet it. But Mary knew. She had 



JUST FOLKS 275 

been talking to Beth about her hopes, these 
weeks past. 

Mikey had an ambition. No one but his 
mother knew it, and she never could tell just 
how she found it out, but it was probably by 
suspicion. For to suspect Mikey of something, 
and then to watch for confirmation, was the 
only way to find out anything about him ; he 
never confided in any one — he didn't know 
how ! But however she knew it, Mary was 
aware that Mikey had an ambition. 

"I dunno," she confessed when telling Beth 
about it, "but I better l'ave off tryin' t' git 
jobs fer anny wan, whin I t'ink what happened 
t' Pat Casey in the job I got 'im sint to. But 
times ag'in I belave 'twas Providince done that. 
Mebbe it wasn't niver intinded fer him t' take 
no chance t' live right — on'y t' die splindid. 
But I want t' git Mikey a chance t' live, poor 
bye ! In all his life he ain't got, manny times, 
t' do what he wanted t' do ; an' he won't git it 
manny times, I'm t'inkin'. So if he could git 
this wan ambition, just now whin he do nade it 
so, 'twould be an awful hilp t' him." 

The ambition of Mikey was to drive a horse. 
"Anny kind av a horse," Mary opined, "ixcipt 
a saw-horse er a clo'es-horse. Iver since he 
was a bit av a bye, he've been that crazy 'bout 
horses, you wouldn' belave." 

Beth told the factory inspector and he said 



276 JUST FOLKS 

he thought something could be done to help 
Mikey realize his ambition; but he could tell 
better when he had seen and talked with Mikey. 

It was this fine hope that Mary had, treasured 
in her heart, when Mikey came home; and 
while they sat around the supper table — she 
and her brood of six — she tried to lead up to 
the subject on her mind. 

"Sure, we kin have Bismarcks ivry wake, 
whin Mikey git t' workin' an' bringin' in all 
that money," she began. Mikey said nothing. 
"I'm hearin' of a gintleman," she went on, 
"that was askin' Miss Tully did she t'ink you'd 
be willin' t' drive a horse fer some wan he know." 
Mikey's gaze was fixed on his plate, but a red 
spot appeared on each of his pale cheeks, and 
by this Mary knew he was excited. "D'ye 
t'ink ye'd wish t' try ?" she asked, as casually 
as she could. 

"I dunno," said Mikey, "but I might see." 

His mother noticed that, although she pressed 
another Bismarck on him, he could eat no more. 
Which was the way she knew what emotions 
must be working in Mikey's soul. 

The factory inspector got Mikey the coveted 
job. It was a job with a horse — which was 
very satisfying; and if Mikey made good at 
that, there was every reason to hope that some 
day he would get a team to drive — which was 
a splendid incentive. If the kingdoms of the 



JUST FOLKS 277 

earth had been offered to Mikey, he would have 
chosen this particular one which was now his. 

He had to get up very early in the mornings 
— before six — and he was hardly ever home for 
supper much before eight; so that by the time 
he had eaten the hearty meal his appetite 
craved and had read (with a new facility, after 
his year at the School) some parts of the evening 
paper, it was time to go to bed — and Mikey 
was glad to go. His long hours kept him safe 
from "de gang," and the love of his job filled 
his life. 

The horse Mikey drove was named Ginger, 
for the same reason, apparently, that fat New- 
foundland dogs which never stray from their 
dooryards are almost always named Rover, 
and fidgety little black-and-tans are frequently 
called Fido. And Mikey loved Ginger as other 
boys love a girl sweetheart — just as shyly and 
just as idealizingly. When he got up in the 
mornings and dressed in the dark, he thought 
how soon he should see Ginger — and was 
cheered; and when he went home evenings, 
tired and with no prospect of any variety or 
boyish fun, he was happy because he knew that 
in the morning he could come back to Ginger. 
Mikey was almost demonstrative with Ginger — 
when no one was by to see or hear — and Gin- 
ger, who was not used to deep devotion but 
was none the less hungry for it therefore, wel- 



278 JUST FOLKS 

corned Mikey's timid love-making with un- 
mistakable delight. 

So Mikey was really happy, for the first time 
in his life; and the Caseys were very comfort- 
able, for the first time in their lives ; when sun- 
dry persons known as "freight-handlers" decided 
to strike for shorter hours and longer pay. 

One evening, after the freight-handlers had 
been "out" for several days, Mikey came home 
with a sick heart. He was not quieter than 
usual — that would hardly have been possible — 
but Mary knew from the difference in his step 
as he came along the board walk, that something 
was the matter. She thought he had lost his 
job, but she dreaded to ask. Mikey sat up very 
late, that night, reading the papers. 

The next morning he went to work as usual, 
and that evening when he came home he was 
not passively depressed but actively distressed ; 
witness, a certain glitter in his usually apathetic 
eyes, and a deep-red flush in his sallow cheeks 
which wind and weather had not yet tanned. 
Inarticulate Mikey ! The things he could not 
say had a way of expressing themselves in tell- 
tale color in his face. And somehow, though 
the color was always the same, any one who was 
at all alert could tell what emotion it signified. 
Mary knew. And to-night she knew it meant 
excitement which had in it resentment and 
angry purpose. "Mikey do be plottin' some- 



JUST FOLKS 279 

thin' that he dread t' do," she put it to herself. 
And it was all she could do to keep from ques- 
tioning him. But experience had taught her 
that to question Mikey was to set him stub- 
bornly on guard against any possible leakage of 
information. 

In complete silence, but evidently with sup- 
pressed excitement, Mikey ate his breakfast 
next morning, and was off — tending to set at 
ease Mary's fear that his job was lost. But all 
day long her heart was heavy with a nameless 
dread. That night she kept Mikey's supper 
on the stove till nine o'clock, silencing the 
children's questioning — but not her own ! — 
by saying "he mus' be workin' late." And when 
the children were gone to bed, she sat in the 
kitchen holding her work-worn hands and trying 
not to be afraid. 

At length, Mikey came ; and at sight of him, 
Mary's heart gave a great bound of relief. 
"Yer workin' late," she said; "have ye had 
annythin' t' ate ?" She hoped Mikey wouldn't 
know she had been sitting up for him. 

"I ain't workin' no more," he answered 
dully, as he held his cold hands over the stove. 

Mary didn't know what to say. "Didn' ye 
like yer job ?" she managed, at last, to falter. 

Mikey couldn't trust himself to answer that; 
so he stood silent, for a moment, holding out 
his hands over the scarce-warm lids. Mary 



280 JUST FOLKS 

lifted off one of the covers and exposed the bed 
of soft-coal fire. "I'll have t' stop kapein' a 
fire all night, pritty soon," she murmured; so 
that if Mikey wanted to consider the talk about 
his lost job at an end, he could. 

But evidently Mikey wanted to talk. 
"Theer's a strike on," he said sullenly. 

"Fer th' love av Hivin ! wheer ?" 

"Here. The freight-handlers has struck, an' 
yeste'day the roads put on strike-breakers — 
scabs — an' to-day the teamsters refused t' 
haul freight that scabs has handled." 

"Air you wan o' thim ?" 

"Yes." 

"An' fer no grievance o' yer own, you've 
lost yer job ?" 

"Yes." 

"I call that pritty tough." 

"In wan way, 'tis. But agin — " 

"Ah, I know all that talk 'bout stickin' to- 
gether ! It sound pritty whin yer sayin' it 
— like all kind av war — but whin ye come to 
do it, 'tis an ugly business. Min gits together 
an' talks about brotherhood an' war; an' 
women an' childern stays at home an' shivers an' 
pays the pinalty. Don't I know ? Ain't I seen ? 
Strikes manes idle min an' mischief; idle min 
an' busy saloons ; idle min an' full pawnshops ; 
idle min an' hungry childern an' women wid 
hivy hearts. Theer seem t' be an awful lot av 



JUST FOLKS 281 

law 'bout some t'ings ; wouldn' ye suppose theer'd 
be a law t' settle differunces widout goin' t' 
war?" 

Mikey listened impatiently. "Ye don't un- 
derstand" he reiterated doggedly — voicing the 
eternal argument of youth against age, and of 
age against youth. 

Earlier in that same evening when Mary 
sat waiting for Mikey, Hannah Wexsmith 
climbed the steep, dark stairs of the house on 
Maxwell Street. When she reached the top 
of the first flight, a door opened and Mamie 
Gooch, with the fretting baby in her arms, 
asked : — 

"Did ye git an evenin' paper ?'* 

"Yes ; ye kin look at it while I'm lightin' 
the hall lamp." 

Before attending to the hall light to-night, 
however, Hannah lit the lamp in her own dark 
little kitchen, so that Mamie Gooch could look 
at the paper. There was pardonable diplomacy 
in this, for it would have been too much to ask 
of human nature to let Mrs. Gooch carry that 
precious penny paper into her own domain, 
whence it would never have issued again until 
it had been read through — murders, strikes, 
jokes, recipes, evening story, and all — all but 
editorials and diplomatic news and other inex- 
plicable cumberings. 



282 JUST FOLKS 

Mamie Gooch's concern with the paper to- 
night, however, was specific; she looked to it, 
not, as usual, to break the monotony of a long, 
fretful day, but for assurance that the morrow 
would not be a day of sharp anxiety compared 
to which tedium would be heaven. She stood 
beneath Hannah Wexsmith's light and scanned 
the strike news eagerly. 

"My God !" she cried presently, "they're or- 
dered out." She dropped the paper and covered 
her eyes with her free hand. 

"I knew it would come," she moaned; "an' 
us with sickness all winter, an' behindhand 
with everything. He told me this mornin' 
he was afraid it would come; an' 'God help us 
if it does,' he says, 'but I got to stand by the 
union, whatever happens.'" 

"The unions is all the poor men has," ven- 
tured Hannah. "You wouldn't have him leave 
it, would you ?" 

"No," feebly, "I don't s'pose I would, but it's 
awful hard, this goin' out when he has a good 
place, an' nothin' agin the bosses, an' nothin' 
to gain if his side wins." 

"You ought to be proud that you're the wife 
of a man that's willin' to make sacrifices for his 
fellows. Slosson says that's the great thing 
about unions ; they show how all lab'ring men 
has one cause, he says." Slosson was Hannah's 
chief lodger. 



JUST FOLKS 283 

"Well, I'd be willin' fer him to make sacrifices 
out o' sympathy fer the freight-handlers if we 
had anythin' to sacrifice, but we ain't ; we got 
all we can do to get along an' catch up with what 
we're owin', at best. An' this means no money 
comin' in for dear knows how long, an' prob'ly 
his job lost, an' maybe him hurt an' laid up, if 
all the papers say about riots is true." 

"Slosson says the papers lie awful about the 
strikes ; they're all fer the rich men, he says." 

"That may be," angrily, "but it's the likes 
of Slosson that begins all the trouble. He ain't 
got nobody dependin' on him, an' nothing to do 
with his money but drink it up, an' it's nothin' 
to him but a picnic to go on a strike ; he can 
make you wait fer his rent money, an' the union'll 
give him enough to buy his drinks. No wonder 
he can talk loud in favor of going out to help the 
freight-handlers. No wonder he can shout, 
'Let's strike' ; an' get my man, that's home that 
very minute, mindin' the sick baby so I can finish 
my ironin', out of his good job that he likes an' 
is satisfied with !" 

Hannah stiffened offendedly when her lodger 
was accused, and Mrs. Gooch took herself off 
to her own kitchen, moving wearily, the baby 
still fretting miserably in her arms. 

Hannah lit the tiny oil-stove and put her kettle 
on ; her supper was to be a light one, consisting 
of a cup of tea, without milk, and a thing called 



284 JUST FOLKS 

a "rusk," purchasable for a penny and eatable 
without butter; but she spread one-half of her 
table neatly, with one of her red-and-white 
checked table-covers folded double, laid primly 
out her cup and saucer and plate, knife and fork 
and spoon, and in the centre of the cloth set the 
red glass salt-cellar and blue glass pepper-shaker 
that were the pride of her heart. Hannah always 
set them forth whether she needed them or not, 
just as to-night she supplied her place with 
the pathetically unnecessary knife and fork. 

While her tea was brewing (Hannah liked a 
strong infusion, and when one had to be sparing 
of leaves, the only alternative was to be generous 
of boiling), she read her paper, striving, in her 
slow, indecisive way, to grasp the movements of 
the day's battles, but mainly intent on finding in 
print some account of those stupendous services 
which Slosson was, by his own admission, render- 
ing the teamsters' cause. 

The newspaper reports were most confusing, 
though ; she could make little out of them, and 
nowhere could she find reference to Slosson. 
"The rich men won't let the papers tell about 
him," she reflected. 

Then, as if that she might not lack understand- 
ing of the war that was being waged between 
labor and capital, there was a heavy step on the 
stairs ; it was Gooch's, and there was distress 
as well as weariness in the leaden shuffle of his 



JUST FOLKS 285 

feet. She heard their kitchen door open, and 
Mamie Gooch exclaim, "Is it true?" Then 
there was a sharp expression of despair, audible 
above the baby's crying, and the door closed. 

Hannah felt "awful sorry" for the Gooches. 
During that winter when he had been so long 
laid up with inflammatory rheumatism and the 
new baby had come to the household, they 
had got deep in debt — the kind of debt out 
of which hardly any one ever escapes : debt 
to the loan shark. It was " ter'ble hard," Hannah 
reflected, for Joe Gooch to be told he couldn't 
work, when he needed work so much ; to be told 
that he couldn't work and that he'd be shot if 
he tried to. Slosson had informed Hannah of 
his intentions. What with his terrible prowess 
and sleepless activities, "this here strike" was 
going to be kept up no matter how long it 
took to bring "the rich men" to terms. "No 
damned cowards was going to be allowed to quit 
the fight." 

Suppose — in Hannah's mind the struggle was 
narrowed to these two men who worked at the 
same calling and dwelt side by side above Mona- 
han's grocery — suppose Gooch should weaken, 
and Slosson should kill Gooch ! 

Staggered by the possibilities which to her, in 
her tiny mental world, were probabilities, Hannah 
cleared away after her frugal meal and went 
downstairs to her station on the single step, in 



286 JUST FOLKS 

the shadow of Monahan's sidewalk display. It 
had been raining, and the sidewalk was sloppy ; 
but Hannah felt that she could not endure her 
agitating thoughts in the loneliness of her tomb- 
like kitchen. 

About eight o'clock, Joe Gooch crowded past 
her and went toward Halsted Street. Hannah 
felt sure he was going to the union headquarters, 
and that he was going to protest, and she 
trembled in fear of an immediate encounter 
with Slosson. The smaller of her renting rooms 
being vacant, and Slosson gone on a strike, 
Hannah had her own worries, too; and the 
problem of the future, as it concerned her rent 
and her occasional "rusk," was terrible enough 
without this other element of fear about Slosson 
and Gooch. 

Joe bought a paper of a boy on the corner, 
making Hannah regretful that she had not 
offered him hers — for pennies would be pre- 
cious, now — and swung on to a northbound car. 
Hannah did not see him get on the car. It would 
never have occurred to her that he would afford 
himself carfare; feminine and masculine econo- 
mies will always be mysteries to each other. 

Joe Gooch, however, if he was faint of heart, 
was not going to protest the orders of his union 
yet, though his spirit was heavy because he 
could not yield to the union's demands with a 
better grace. Nothing could shake his earnest 



JUST FOLKS 287 

conviction that the union was the workingman's 
only hope; and though he doubted the justice 
of this particular conflict and could not doubt, 
as he would have liked to doubt, the charges of 
foul play that were being laid on the labor leaders, 
there never was any possible course for him but 
that which his union dictated. It was hard, 
God knew ; but when was war ever easy ? And 
what cause, of all that men had ever fought for, 
could have been so near and dear to the men 
who fought and the women and children who 
starved and suffered, as this great cause the 
unions stood for ? It was hard to leave Mamie 
crying; to think, as he must think, of the 
harassing weeks to come. But what would you ? 
This was war ! 

The paper Gooch bought was full of the law- 
lessness of the strikers, picturing them as blood- 
thirsty miscreants seeking to inaugurate a reign 
of terror, and with a gesture of angry disgust he 
threw it on the floor of the car and trampled it 
under foot. 

Down town, he drifted restlessly from one spot 
where the conflict came to an issue, to another. 
At the mouth of an alley wherein were the 
shipping platforms of a big mercantile house, 
Gooch saw Slosson, who told him it was be- 
lieved this house meant to move a lot of goods 
with non-union niggers driving, that night. 

"Pm on to them," laughed Slosson, between 



288 JUST FOLKS 

puffs of a big, bad cigar. "I'd like to see a 
wagon leave this alley to-night." 

There were a dozen other pickets near by, 
and across the street as many police lounged 
and waited, a patrol standing ready for emer- 
gency. 

Gooch turned away from his neighbor in 
disgust. 

"Acts as if the whole thing was on his shoul- 
ders," he muttered to an acquaintance he had 
picked up in the course of his drifting; "an' it's 
fellers like him, with their cheap talk and no 
responsibilities, that has got hundreds of us that's 
anxious to work into all this trouble. It's not 
the unions that's wrong; it's men like Slosson, 
who get control of the unions. They'll bring us a 
bad name with the public, with their loud talk an' 
their high-handedness. An' by drivin' us into 
fights we can't win, they'll get us the reputation 
of losin', an' that's a bad thing for any manor 
lot of men to have. Yes, sir ; men like Slosson is 
killin' the unions, an' we're standin' around 
helpless an' not figurin' at all !" 

Gooch found no lack of sympathizers in this 
view. Men he stopped to talk with in the streets, 
men he got into conversation with in one or two 
saloons into which he dropped for a glass of beer, 
echoed his sentiments. "From the d — news- 
papers," he told one man he met, "you'd think 
every teamster that's out was so crazy to strike, 



JUST FOLKS 289 

they couldn't be held back. But you know, 
an' I know, that there's more strikin' against 
their will than otherwise. On'y we're keepin' 
still, out o' loyalty to our union, an' nothin's 
said about us. An' the other fellers is throwin' 
rocks an' gettin' into the papers." 

It happened that the chance acquaintance to 
whom Gooch had confided his opinion of Slos- 
son had a misguided zeal for the cause, or a 
sneak's desire to seem zealous at small cost, 
and felt constrained to tell Slosson what his 
neighbor had said, with a suggestion that Gooch 
might need watching. 

Slosson gratefully bought the man three 
drinks as reward for this information, so valu- 
able to "the leaders of this here fight — " mean- 
ing Slosson, who had rewarded so many faithful 
that day, always courteously drinking with 
them, of course, that by this time he began to 
seem to himself the only leader worth consider- 
ing. 

Gooch was up, heating water to soothe the 
baby's colic, when Slosson came staggering up 
the stairs, knocking his feet noisily on every 
step and cursing loudly at the darkness. 

"It's nothin' to him," reflected Gooch, bitterly, 
as he heard the door of Hannah's front room 
slam, "that my kid's sick, an' I dassent spend 
a cent fer medicine." 



XV 



The strike wore on ; but it was a losing fight 
for the teamsters and the freight-handlers. 
Non-union men were handling freight; the 
hoped-for sympathetic strike did not materialize ; 
and a boy "widout principles" was driving 
Ginger. 

Mikey sat at home, a great deal of the time 
— as if fearful to trust himself elsewhere in 
idleness — and Mary did everything she could 
to encourage him. She did not approve of the 
strike, but she could see that, for some reason 
or another, Mikey felt in honor bound to sup- 
port it, else he had never made for it so supreme 
a sacrifice as Ginger. And she knew that what- 
ever it was in Mikey which made him give up 
the job he loved, it must be dealt gently with, 
just now. Even if it was an unwise sentiment, 
it was the alternative for despair and a slipping 
back into old ways of the days before "de bean 
house." 

It was hard to make the children understand. 
Johnny, in particular, was unsympathetic. 
"Aw," he said bitterly, "Mikey's goin' t' be 
jes' like Pa — wan o' thim that's got such gran' 
princ'ples he can't work." 

290 



JUST FOLKS 291 

"Hold yer tongue agin yer brother!" com- 
manded Mary, who always took up the cudgels 
of defence for any of her family that the others 
maligned. "He didn' give up that job widout 
some dape rayson. If he was diffrunt from 
what he is, we might try t' change his raysonin'. 
But he's wan o' thim that don't change aisy, an' 
almos' niver changes ixcipt fer the worse if ye 
try t' drive him. Thim quiet kind, that don't 
let hem ner haw out o' thim, is mos'ly that 
way. I don' blame Mikey. I tuck me own 
disapp'intmints that way before he — whin he 
was born. By an' by I l'arned better; mebbe 
he will, whin he've had as much poundin' t' git 
sinse into him as what I've had. Mebbe he 
won't l'arn. Annyway, you l'ave him be, if 
you don' want him back wid the gang that got 
him put up before." 

It was a pity Mikey could not have over- 
heard his mother's defence ; it might have helped 
to hearten him. 

Beth Tully had gone home to see her mother 
and to take a much-needed rest ; so she was not 
there to appeal to. The factory inspector 
could not be expected to regard sympathetically 
Mikey's treatment of the position recently got 
for him ; so Mikey dared not ask there for an- 
other. He tried, as best he could, to get some 
kind of work — but without success. Nobody, 
it seemed, wanted a boy out of the Reform 



2 9 2 JUST FOLKS 

School. The Law had told Mikey, when it 
"put him away," that it was doing this for 
Mikey's own good. But Mikey found himself 
branded almost as effectually as if with a peni- 
tentiary sentence; and it further embittered 
that young soul of his which had never known 
much else but bitterness. Undoubtedly there 
were in town — though Mikey did not know it 
— several thousand over-busy but warm-hearted 
employers of labor who, if Mikey's case had been 
sympathetically presented to them, would have 
said: "Certainly ! Bring the boy over and I'll 
see that he gets a chance." But Beth was 
away, they were afraid to ask Eleanor, and 
Mikey never got to those busy men ; he didn't 
get any job. 

"T'ings is all agin me !" he told his mother, 
one night, in a sudden burst of despair. 

"T'ings is not all agin ye!" Mary assured 
him, trying to believe her own assurance. "I've 
lived longer'n you, an' I tell ye, whin t'ings 
git so hard ye t'ink they can't git worse, they 
always turn, just thin, an' git better." 

But it was hard times in the Henry Street 
cellar, and Mary had finally to have recourse 
to what the children dreaded, and with good 
reason. She went down town to scrub. This 
meant leaving home every afternoon soon after 
the children got back from school. It meant 
that Midget and Mollie had to "mind" little 



JUST FOLKS 293 

Annie and put her to bed; that they had to 
cook, as best they could, the supper their mother 
left ready for them ; it meant the difference 
between irksome responsibility and that care- 
freeness which Mary was prone to give her 
children whenever she could, on the plea that 
they'd better play while they could — for they'd 
get little enough of it all the rest of their lives. 

The night Mikey came home from fruitless 
job-hunting and found his mother gone to 
scrub, something bitterer than had ever been 
there before came into his young face — and 
stayed. It wasn't the scrubbing that hurt; he 
was inured to the idea of his mother as a patient 
drudge. It was that this seemed to him the 
acknowledgment of his defeat. It wasn't any 
use ! Even his mother had given up hoping 
and gone to scrub. 

It was one o'clock when Mary came stumbling 
along the uneven board walk of the pitchy black 
passageway between her tenement and the next. 
Mikey was sitting up, in the old wooden rocker 
drawn close by the stove whereon he had the 
kettle boiling to make his mother some tea. 

"Ma," he said, as she steeped her tea, "some- 
thin' is wrong ! I can't stand it no longer." 

"What d'ye mane ?" she cried, setting the 
kettle dowm sharply. 

"I dunno what I mane," he answered dully, 
"on'y I can't stan' much more." 



294 JUST FOLKS 

"That's what we all t'ink whin we're young," 
she soothed, "but theer ain't no limit t' what 
a body kin stand. Don't / know that ? D'ye 
know how I've done it ? I've toP mesilf I 
could surely manage t' stan' wan more day; 
an' whin that day was done, I'd say I'd make 
out t' stan' another before I'd turn coward. 
Theer's more than me has got t'rough life be 
playin' that little game wid thimsilves, I'm 
thinkin'. Yer young t' have t' l'arn it, Mikey 
bye. An' I'm sorry fer ye. But ye needn' tell 
me yer pa's son is goin' t' be no coward." 

" Dyin's easy," observed Mikey, briefly. " It's 
livin' that's too hard fer most." 

"I know," said Mary, "theer's a lot in that. 
But go t' bed, me bye. 'Tis wonderful how 
much more wan fale like standin', in the mornin'." 

Meanwhile, acute distress reigned on the 
floor above Monahan's grocery. The Gooches 
had kept soul and body together on the pit- 
tance doled out from the union fund, though it 
sufficed neither for rent, nor shoes, nor medicine. 
But Hannah Wexsmith was in despair ; she had 
succeeded in renting her small room for a dollar 
and a half a week, but Slosson was now some 
twenty-odd dollars "behind-hand," two months' 
rent was overdue, and "rusk" for luncheon was 
no longer to be thought of ; she could not afford 
even to buy an evening paper. Evicting Slosson 



JUST FOLKS 29s 

had never occurred to Hannah. Had he not 
been lodging with her for eight years — ever 
since Wexsmith died ? Small use to argue that 
she might do better with her swell front room, 
with its trailing starched Nottingham, its "en- 
largements" of Wexsmith and herself, its folding- 
bed disguised as a tin mantel, and its two patent 
rockers. She had small cause to love Slosson, 
but she was accustomed to him, and Hannah 
shrank from nothing so much as from change. 

"You could sell that for more than enough 
to pay your rent," the landlord's collector had 
said, nodding at an old kitchen dresser which 
had come with Wexsmith's mother from over- 
seas and was, though Hannah did not dream it, 
a handsome and valuable bit of antique. 

Astonished, hurt, she looked at the dresser 
and shook her head. She would do almost any- 
thing to pay the rent, but — "Where would I 
keep my cups ?" she said. 

No more could she conceive her widowed, 
self-supporting life without Slosson; so Slosson 
stayed, and more and more hours out of each 
day Hannah sat in the big Jesuit church and 
prayed that the Mother of God would help her 
pay the rent ; she never obtruded upon Heaven 
the inconsiderable fact that she was hungry. 

As the strike dragged its weary length along, 
looking every day more and more hopeless for 
the strikers — ugly tales of "graft" filling the 



296 JUST FOLKS 

prints and the air meanwhile — the fund avail- 
able for strikers' maintenance grew more and 
more tragically inadequate to keep hunger and 
eviction writs at bay. Sympathizing members 
of other unions were faithfully paying their 
weekly tithes into the treasury of the distressed, 
but there was a hitch somewhere. The rumors 
about the dissipation and extravagance of the 
leaders might or might not be true, but the loan 
sharks and pawnbrokers were waxing rich, the 
number of children clamoring for employment, 
of women besieging sweatshops for work, had 
become terrible. 

After two weeks, Gooch's dole had been cut 
down from seven dollars to five; now, for a 
fortnight, none at all had been paid. Some one 
hanging about union headquarters on the same 
errand as himself had reported to Gooch, when 
he tried in vain to collect his due, that Slosson 
had been instrumental in cutting it off. "He 
says there's little enough for the faithful, with- 
out givin' any to them that's no love fer the 
union," the man said. 

"Love fer the union!" cried Gooch. "My 
God ! If I ain't got it, I'd like to know what's 
keepin' me from killin' that Slosson any day ? 
This strike's nothin' but a long picnic to him ; 
he ain't payin' no rent to his poor, starvin' little 
landlady, and the union's keepin' him in drinks 
an' free lunches, an' he's got no work to do — 



JUST FOLKS 297 

no wonder he can talk big and jeer at me because 
I want to go back to work. I'd a' killed him 
long ago, if it wasn't fer bringin' a bad name 
on my union an' our fight." 

Lean, haggard, heavy-hearted, Gooch dragged 
himself home to tell Mamie of his non-success 
and consult with her as to what extreme measure 
they might take to get a little food and to hold 
the loan shark at bay. 

Gooch's mind, like poor Hannah's, had travelled 
over and over and over, so many weary times, 
the little round of possibilities, that the process 
had finally become mechanical, defeating its own 
ends. Dazed, unable to think, he climbed the 
stairs. It was supper-time, and it took all the 
man's courage to enter his home empty-handed. 

The kitchen was dark, dark as a pocket, 
though the great towers of the Jesuit church 
were outlined against a gorgeous sunset as he 
came by, and it would be two hours yet ere the 
summer day was done. 

"Mamie must have gone out," he said to 
himself, remembering bitterly that they had had 
no oil for a week and that the last of their 
candles was all but gone. "Perhaps they're in 
Mrs. Wexsmith's." But they weren't. Mrs. 
Wexsmith had no light either, and was sitting 
by her open kitchen door, that the feeble beacon 
in the hall, which the landlord supplied, might 
mitigate her gloom. 



298 JUST FOLKS 

Yes, she had heard Mrs. Gooch go out with 
the two children an hour ago, but she didn't 
speak, and Hannah had no idea where they 
might have gone. For a few minutes Gooch 
sat talking with his neighbor, then went back 
to his own rooms. An almost overmastering 
impulse to flee them and seek refuge anywhere 
came to him, but he had never learned to shirk 
responsibility. Mamie and the kids would be 
coming home soon to a dark, supperless house; 
at least he would be there when they came; 
perhaps, together, he and Mamie might devise 
something to be done. 

An hour passed — two ; grown very nervous, 
Gooch got up and "borrowed" the hall light 
while he hunted for the bit of candle left from 
last night. As he hunted, his eye fell upon a 
scrap of paper : — 

"I have taken the children and gone. 

"Mamie." 

Gone ! Where ? Crazed, he thought of the 
river, of the lake ; tried to think of other places 
whither the maddened betook themselves ; but 
his brain refused to serve him. Habit, the habit 
of careful years, made him set the lighted lamp 
back in its socket; then he stumbled, like a 
mortally-stricken thing seeking a quiet place to 
die, into his black kitchen and shut the door. 

The sense of time was lost to him ; how long 
he sat, he could not know. But the weakness 



JUST FOLKS 299 

of long hunger kept him dulled, if it kept him 
inactive, and his sufferings were not poignant; 
he hadn't strength for poignancy. 

He didn't hear Hannah come in from church, 
where the lights were few but free and sufficient 
for prayer. He didn't hear the lodger of the 
little room come home. But at some time before 
the hall light had flickered out, he heard on the 
stairs the staggering, stumbling step of Slosson. 
As if he had been listening for it — perhaps he 
had, he wasn't conscious as to that — Gooch 
got up and opened his door. As Slosson neared 
the top, he raised his eyes and saw Gooch, the 
sickly ray from the hall light, with its worn re- 
flector, falling full on the white face of a madman. 

"Geddout o' my way," ordered the "leader," 
imperiously, balancing himself with difficulty 
and making nice calculations for the top step. 

For answer, an arm shot out, and a heavy 
fist landed accurately beneath Slosson's chin. 
There was a cry, a succession of bumps, then 
silence. 

Hannah Wexsmith's door opened, and she 
stood framed in it, a grotesque little figure in a 
coarse, skimp nightgown buttoned at .the throat 
with a big white china button, her crimping pins 
looking like horns standing up from her head; 
only the last lengths of terror could have driven 
Hannah Wexsmith so attired into the view of 
any human creature. 



300 JUST FOLKS^ 

Gooch looked, in the wan light, the most 
startled of the three persons present ; Hannah's 
other lodger seemed rather annoyed by the dis- 
turbance than concerned with its outcome. It 
never occurred either to him or to Hannah that 
Gooch had more to do with the tragedy than 
they themselves. Hannah had lost uncounted 
hours' sleep in the expectation that Slosson 
would tumble down those stairs and be killed. 

Hurriedly she lit a candle in Slosson's room 
(he never needed more, and it was all she could 
do to provide oil for the lodger who paid and 
demanded) and commanded the tin mantel to 
become a bed, whereon the limp form that 
Gooch and the lodger were carrying upstairs 
might be laid. 

There was a doctor at the corner, and it was 
but a few minutes until he was there, pronounc- 
ing the injuries to include a broken arm and a 
skull fracture, probably fatal. 

"Fell, I suppose?" interrogated the doctor, 
perfunctorily. Slosson's intoxication was so evi- 
dent that there seemed but one way for him to 
have come by this accident. 

"Yes," assented Hannah, adding, as if in 
sufficient extenuation, "he've had th' failin' 
these many years, an' I'm expectin' him to do 
this ever since he come to rent of me." 

Gooch, still only half comprehending what 
was going on, sat in one of Hannah's patent 



JUST FOLKS 301 

rockers, his head in his hands ; the doctor 
thought him drunk, too. 

"Was he," nodding toward Gooch, "with 
him?" 

"No, oh, no ! he lives in the rear." Then, it 
suddenly occurring to her, "Mis' Gooch got 
home all right, didn't she, Mr. Gooch ? " 

Gooch lifted his haggard face and shook his 
head in a despairing negative. 

"Fer the love of mercy !" cried Hannah, for- 
getting Slosson for a moment. 

The doctor was writing something which 
would doubtless be needed in a death certificate, 
when there was a sound of the street-door open- 
ing and of stumbling steps on the pitch-black 
stairway. The hall light had gone out, and 
Hannah, excitedly unmindful yet of her strange 
attire, seized the candle and hurried to the 
head of the stairs. 

Gooch was close behind her, his mind, which 
had not grasped the significance of anything 
since Mamie's note, suddenly alert again and 
full of terror. The glimmer of the candle 
faintly revealed Mamie struggling up the stairs, 
the baby in one arm, and the other hand direct- 
ing the uncertain steps of little Clarence, half 
dead with sleepiness. 

"Mis' Gooch!" cried Hannah, the feeble 
beacon quivering in her hand, "in God's name, 
where you bin ?" 



302 JUST FOLKS 

"Come here with that light," called the 
doctor, impatiently, mentally cursing the pitchy 
dark and these people who acted so strangely. 

"Where's your lamps ?" he demanded of 
Hannah, when she returned with the candle. 

The lodger produced his, lit it, and the doctor 
ordered it held for him while he made his way 
downstairs to telephone for an ambulance. 

"Then go back and sit with him till I come," 
he said, and was off, stumbling over the reunited 
Gooches in the hall. 

By the light of his departing they made their 
way into their own black kitchen, and when 
Hannah followed them with Slosson's candle, 
she found Gooch sobbing violently, his head on 
Mamie's shoulder. The baby was still in the 
crook of that much-enduring arm, and Clarence 
had stretched his utterly fagged little body 
on the floor. Mamie, meanwhile, was explain- 
ing : — 

"When we went, Clarence was cryin' fer his 
supper," she said, "an' I knew there wouldn't 
be none for him, an' the baby was frettin' terrible, 
an' I was just wore out. I can't stand it no 
more, thinks I, an' I'll go — mebby to the lake, 
mebby to ask some one for somethin' fer these 
childern to eat, whose pa wants to work an' 
dassent. Then I thought o' Shea an' them that's 
said to be makin' their big money out o' this 
strike, an' are livin' grand in hotels while we 



JUST FOLKS 303 

starve. An' I'll go to Shea, thinks I, an' ast 
him what he's got to say to Clarence when he 
cries fer his supper. So I walked all the way to 
the Briggs House, carryin' the baby here, an' 
draggin' Clarence by the hand, an' there I set 
an' waited to see his nibs until twelve o'clock. 
He wasn't in to supper, they said, an' so I said I'd 
wait. I had to wait!" shrilly, "I couldn't 
'a' walked back if I'd 'a' wanted to. Clarence 
fretted hisself to sleep, smellin' the supper in 
the restyraunt, an' I was all wore out 'n' couldn't 
no more 'a' got myself back home, lettin' alone 
the kids, than I could 'a' flew. So there was 
nothin' to do but wait, an' when they wanted to 
put me out, I wouldn't go, an' told 'em why. 
So they leaved me stay there an' wait fer him, 
but he didn't come, an' when it got twelve 
o'clock some fellers that was settin' 'round took 
up a little money amongst 'em an' bought me an' 
Clarence somethin' to eat an' gave me money to 
ride home an' to buy a few little things. Was 
you scared about me ?" she finished, unable to 
help enjoying the drama of the situation. 

"Scared?" Gooch lifted his head. "I was 
mad, Mamie — loony, insane. An'," — realiza- 
tion returning to him in a cruel flash — "My 
God ! what I done ! I knocked that Slosson 
downstairs." 

An exclamation of horror from Hannah seemed 
their first intimation of her presence, and Gooch, 



304 JUST FOLKS 

looking at her, shuddered at the accusation in 
her face. 

"Is he goin' to die ?" he asked. 

"The doctor said he might." 

"Good God, Mamie, then Pm a murderer!" 

At two o'clock the ambulance came to take 
Slosson to the County Hospital. 

"Anything to go with him ?" asked one of the 
stretchermen. 

Hannah flushed as she answered in the nega- 
tive ; in eight years this subject had not ceased 
to be a sore point with her. In all the years 
of his stay with her, there had never been a time 
when Slosson, closing behind him the door of 
Hannah's best room, had left in it a single posses- 
sion of his own, to the extent of a collar-button. 
Everything in the world that he owned, Slosson 
carried on his back or in his pockets. He never 
bought any clean or new clothes until those 
he was wearing refused to do duty for another 
day. And when he bought new, he came 
home without the old. No persuasion of Han- 
nah's could induce him to own even an extra pair 
of socks, though she offered to wash and darn 
them ; and such a thing as a night-shirt was not 
to be thought of for an instant. Only the 
force of habit or lack of initiative to go else- 
where brought Slosson back and back to the 
best room for eight years ; so far as the anchor- 



JUST FOLKS 305 

age of possessions was concerned, any room in 
Chicago was as much his home. 

No, he had never been married that she knew 
of, Hannah told the ambulance attendant who 
interrogated her, pencil and entrance blank in 
hand. He had a brother, she believed, living 
in or near Three Oaks, Michigan; that was 
the only relative she had ever heard of. And 
he belonged to the teamsters' union — to the 
wholesale delivery branch — and they would 
pay for his care or his burying. His age was 
forty-four, and he had "the failin'," and he had 
— here Hannah crossed herself, but was unable 
to exorcise visions of her soul in everlasting 
torment — fallen downstairs while drunk, as 
she had always feared he would. 

When the ambulance had gone, Hannah tip- 
toed out of the room as respectfully as if it were 
still Slosson's, and betook herself and the rem- 
nant of candle to the stifling, unventilated 
closet where she had her bed. 

It was a hot, muggy night at the end of June, 
and no cool of approaching dawn had found its 
way to Blue Island Avenue. But it was not the 
heat Hannah minded, as she sank on her knees 
to pray ; it was not her old, familiar perplexity 
about the rent. It was a new terror, and such 
as drove her almost mad to contemplate. 

Morning found her still on her knees, stiff 
with cramp and fatigue, but praying, praying; 



306 JUST FOLKS 

and ever the words of Gooch rang like a knell in 
her ears : "Good God, Mamie, then I'm a mur- 
derer!" A murderer! And she had lied to 
shield him ! 

At five o'clock she was in the church en- 
treating confession, startling the stolid German 
priest with her anguished countenance and 
manner of great guilt. 

At six oclock she climbed the stairs again. 
Part of the confessor's advice had been: "Go 
home and make yourself a good stiff cup of black 
coffee ; you're so weak you can't think. Then 
you must see if your neighbor won't confess his 
crime. If he does, it isn't likely he'll get much 
punishment from any court — not in the circum- 
stances — even if the man dies. But if he doesn't 
confess and take what's coming to him, your 
neighbor'll be a wretched man to the day of his 
death. Try to make him tell ; it'll be better for 
him to tell than for you to tell on him. But if 
he won't tell, and there's an inquest or examina- 
tion, you must tell what you heard this man 
say." 

Hannah was unable to obey about the coffee, 
but she had a little tea and made herself as strong 
a cup of this as she could. While she was drink- 
ing it, she heard the Gooches stirring in their 
kitchen. A few moments later their door opened. 
The sickening sound of sobbing came to Hannah, 
mingled with the crying of children. Then 



i 



JUST FOLKS 307 

Gooch went downstairs, and the street-door 
closed behind him, while Mamie, with a wild 
cry of despair, came and threw herself into Han- 
nah's arms. 

The night shift at Maxwell Street Station was 
yawning through the last tedious hours of duty 
when Gooch walked up to the desk and an- 
nounced in a quiet, determined voice : — 

"I've murdered a man." 

The sergeant looked up, interested ; no mere 
tale of theft or assault, this, or story of some 
one missing ; this was " real business." 

Gooch needed little questioning to draw forth 
his story, which he told with evident straight- 
forwardness and no attempt at extenuation. 

There had been "bad blood" between him 
and Slosson since the beginning of the strike, 
he explained, and then when he heard that 
Slosson had kept him from getting his weekly 
dole and said he was unfaithful to the union, 
and the children cried for food, Gooch knew he 
was going to hurt Slosson. Finally, Mamie 
took the kids and left ; that was the last straw. 
"I thought she had drowned herself, or some- 
thing like that, an' I was crazy. I never could 
'a' dreamed she was only down to see Shea — " 

"What's that ?" One of the roundsmen who 
had been reading a morning paper sat forward 
in his arm-chair. Gooch repeated. 



308 JUST FOLKS 

"That must be the woman it tells about here." 
He pointed to a paragraph headed : — 

WIFE APPEALS TO SHEA 

Wife and Starving Children of Striking 

Teamster Gooch Sit for Hours in 

Briggs House Waiting to see Shea 

Then followed a "stickful" of copy written by a 
reporter doing strike duty at the Briggs House; 
he had been one of the "fellers" to contribute 
to the midnight supper of Mamie and the 
children, and in the absence of more important 
news his little "Side-light on the Strike" found 
place in the morning paper. 

Gooch read the paragraph with more distress, 
seemingly, than he had evinced over the murder. 

"She oughtn't never to've done it," he said 
with spirit. "People'll think I set her up to it, 
that I ain't got spunk to stand up an' take 
what's comin' to me in a fight. But," humbly, 
"I hadn't oughter done what I done, neither. 
Every union man that hits a blow except in 
self-defence is hurtin' all the others, bringin' 
'em a bad name. I oughtn't to ha' done it, no 
matter what Slosson done. The way I feel 
about the union is, my life'd be only too little 
to give if it'd help the cause any. Why couldn't 
I 'a' had patience, jes' patience to wait ? But 
God A'mighty, it's hard to hear Mamie an' the 



JUST FOLKS 309 

kids cry for hunger ! An' now my life's as good 
as gone, an' the shame of it, an' no good done 
to nobody!" 

Gooch was booked by sympathetic jailers, 
and when he had been locked up, an officer 
went over to find Mamie and do what he could 
to reassure her. 

By ten o'clock Mamie was overrun with re- 
porters, men and women. The floor above 
Monahan's became, momentarily, the centre- 
front of the stage whereon the great strike was 
enacting its drama, and the spot light of the daily 
presswas toplayfor a brief while between Gooch's 
cell at Maxwell Street Station, Slosson's cot at 
the "County," and the rooms where Mamie 
and Hannah sat and waited they knew not 
what. 

The first reporter brought good news. Slosson 
was not dead. Nobody cared much on Slos- 
son's account, but everybody cared on Gooch's. 
Toward noon a telegram came from Three Oaks, 
Michigan, whither word had been wired that 
Slosson was probably fatally hurt. "Just bury 
him in Chicago," was the grief-stricken response. 
But Slosson declined to be buried yet. The 
fall that would have killed any other man had 
only inconvenienced him; his arm was broken, 
but the succession of bumps had not materially 
damaged his head. "Drunken men's luck," 
the surgeon muttered. Slosson was so far out of 



310 JUST FOLKS 

danger before night that Gooch was let out on 
bail, which was easily forthcoming after the 
evening papers had been read. 

He and Mamie and the kids had Hannah as 
their guest for supper in the kitchen which only 
last night had been so dark. None of them 
could eat much, except the children, who were 
not moved by the excitement of the evening 
papers. Gooch was very anxious and read 
every line of every account. 

"I asked them young men to be sure an' put 
in about how I stand about the union," he said. 
"I was afraid they wouldn't. I don't want any 
one to think we're not true till death, Mamie 
an' me." 

"They won't," comforted Hannah, wishing she 
could feel as sure no one would think ill of her 
for having gone to confession with her hair in 
curling pins; "an' what d'ye think? One o' 
them ladies that writes pieces fer the paper 
said she could get me a new dresser, an' forty 
dollars besides, for my old kitchen one that 
belonged to his ma. So poor Slosson needn't 
worry 'bout his rent." 



XVI 

Beth came back a week after the episode of 
Gooch and Slosson and found, after a month's 
absence, so much history to hear that it seemed 
as if she would never be able to catch up with it. 

Adam Spear's observations on the strike were 
particularly voluble. It seemed a thousand pities 
that such astute knowledge of the entire situa- 
tion should blush unseen beside Liza's fireless 
stove — Adam had the stove habit so fixedly 
that he could never get far away from it even in 
summer when the stove stood cold for months 
and a gasoline substitute did its work. Hart 
Ferris gave Adam's vast knowledge what public- 
ity he could, thanking his stars that the paper 
he worked for was not The News which Adam 
read religiously ; but though it seemed to enter- 
tain some persons, it did nothing discoverable 
to settle the strike. 

Meanwhile, Beth was busy about many things, 
but trying all the while to get Mikey a job. She 
was very much incensed to find that such jobs 
as she could get did not appeal to Mikey ! 

"I believe," she told Ferris one evening, 
"that Mikey's going to be just like his pa. He 
doesn't seem to want to work." 

311 



312 JUST FOLKS 

"Then why bother with him ?" said Ferris, 
feeling very philosophical. 

Beth didn't deign any reply. The next time 
she was at Mary's and found Mikey home, she 
asked him to walk back with her toward Maxwell 
Street. Under the safe cover of the swarming 
streets, she talked to him ; tried to arouse his 
sense of manhood, of responsibility. 

"It isn't a question of what you like to do, 
Mikey," she told him. "It's a question of 
what you must do. You're the man of that 
family now, and you must try to help your 
mother all you can. Think of all she has 
suffered ! You don't want Johnny and Dewey 
to have things as hard as you had them, do 
you ? You don't want Midget and Mollie and 
little Annie to — to go the way poor Angela 
Ann did, do you ? Isn't any work that'll 
keep them fed and clothed and give them a fair 
chance for happiness worth working at, even if 
you don't happen to like it ?" 

Mikey hung his head and made no answer. 

"You know," Beth went on, "how bitter it 
used to make you and Angela, because your pa 
wouldn't work at what he could get to do. If 
he had done right, you wouldn't have suffered all 
you've had to suffer. If he had done right, 
Angela Ann wouldn't have been where she is 
to-day." 

Again no answer. 



JUST FOLKS 313 

" Is it because you don't feel well, Mikey ? 
Does it hurt you when you work ?" 

"No'm." 

"Weren't you happy when you were working 
— before the strike ?" 

By the light of the street lamp they were pass- 
ing, Beth could see the red spots burning on 
Mikey's high cheek-bones. 

Weren't you ?" she persisted. 
Yes'm." 

:c Well, then — " Beth thought she heard some- 
thing like a stifled sob. "Mikey!" she cried 
softly, but with unmistakable eagerness, as 
the light of a great illumination broke in upon 
her. "Is it — is it Ginger?" 

Mikey nodded. , 

"That was it," Beth told Mary, next day. 
"He can't forget Ginger. That's awfully pitiful, 
Mary. I'm going to see the man who hired 
Mikey before, and tell him a few things, and see 
if he won't take Mikey back." 

But the man wouldn't. The strike had been 
peculiarly uncalled for and unjust. Their firm 
had always treated their drivers with the ut- 
most fairness and generosity. Yet the drivers, 
for no grievance of their own, had struck and 
made the firm a great deal of trouble, cost it a 
great deal of money. Not one of these ingrates 
should come back if, to keep their places filled, the 



3H JUST FOLKS 

firm had to send an arsenal along with every 
strike-breaker. 

Beth couldn't blame him, and she said so. 
"But the pity of Mikey's case remains," she said. 

The man admitted this, and gave her five 
dollars for Mary Casey. 

"I guess," said Beth, when she had thanked 
him, "what I'll have to do is to see your barn 
boss about buying Ginger, so I can present 
him to some other firm that'll let Mikey drive." 

The man on whom she was calling, laughed. 
"You're a friend that stops at nothing, aren't 
you ?" he said. "But I'd let that boy get over 
his notion — that's the easiest way of all." 

"I don't know about that," little Beth re- 
plied. "He's had so much to 'get over' in his 
life, poor Mikey!" 

She hadn't intended this for a fine parting 
shot, but it stuck in that man's consciousness 
all day and for many a day. He didn't relent 
about Mikey, but he sent word to the barn boss : 

"If anybody offers to buy a horse named 
Ginger, let him go cheap." 

It was a question in Beth's mind whether 
Mikey would be made the happier by knowing 
she had tried, and failed, or whether she would 
better keep the knowledge of her undertaking 
from him. Thinking she would talk it over with 
Mary, she went over to Henry Street about that 



JUST FOLKS 315 

time on Sunday afternoon when, experience 
had taught her, Mary was most likely to be 
alone. 

Mary, meantime, had had an eventful day. 
That morning she was up betimes, meaning 
to go to early mass in the basement of the 
church before "drissy folks" were abroad in 
their Sunday finery. For more than one reason 
Mary avoided the later masses ; her rags were 
small shame to her compared with the more 
than half-suspicious inquiries of acquaintances 
as to the whereabouts of Angela Ann. 

"'Tis more lies I'm after tellin'," said poor 
Mary, "than th' praste kin iver take aff o' me. 
'N' ag'in I do pinance enough t' kape me busy 
half me time, an' go t' git me. holy c'munion, 
I'm not out o' the prisence o 'th' blissed Sacra- 
ment before I'm havin' t' lie ag'in t' save that 
poor, silly girl's name !" 

This morning, however, in spite of her early 
rising and her efforts to get to seven o'clock 
mass, events conspired to thwart her intentions. 
Mollie woke up with a headache, and Johnny 
had to be despatched on a vinegar-borrowing 
expedition, so that the time-honored application 
of brown paper soaked in vinegar might be 
made to the poor little head. Annie cried lustily 
with a colicky cry, and Mary had to hasten the 
boiling of tea, that she might have a good, hot 
cup to soothe her. 



316 JUST FOLKS 

It was nine o'clock before Mary could get away ; 
the last mass in the basement was at nine o'clock. 
But the Elevation of the Host had been cele- 
brated before she got there, and she turned 
disappointedly to the stairs ; she would have to 
wait for half-past nine mass in the main church. 
It seemed as if Providence were balking her, 
but on the stairway she learned the reason why. 

"Ye mus' be sure t' say a spicial prayer on 
this mass," said one woman who passed her to 
another, "'tis the first mass this young praste 
have iver said, an' a blissin' go wid it t' thim that 
prays wid him." 

Saul on the Damascus road had no more over- 
whelming sense of arrest and redirection than 
Mary Casey had, as, trembling with excitement, 
she reached the top of the stairway. 

"Think o' that now," she told herself, "an' 
if I had come t' th' airly mass I'd niver 'a' known 
it!" 

Hardly would her knees uphold her until she 
could sink into an obscure pew, far back under 
the gallery. And there, at the tense moment 
when the silver-toned bell proclaimed commemo- 
ration of the great lifting-up in suffering, Mary 
raised her faith-full prayer: "A'mighty God, 
sind me girl back t' me ! But if it don' be in yer 
heart t' do that much, make her a good girl 
wheeriver she be. Fer th' love av Christ, Amin." 

Not often in any lifetime, perhaps, does it 



JUST* FOLKS 317 

come to pass that one prays with such sublime 
assurance of crying straight into the listening ear 
of Omnipotence that will inevitably keep faith 
with poor flesh. For nigh on to forty years Mary 
Casey had listened to reiterations of the old and 
new Covenants, but they had fallen on sterile 
ground in her soul. It was the little chance 
remark about the new priest's first mass, dropping 
into harrowed and watered soil, that flowered in 
immediate faith. 

The mass ended and the throngs of worshippers 
passed out, but Mary sat unheeded and un- 
heeding in her dim corner, her simple mind grap- 
pling with the stupendous idea of its Covenant 
with Heaven. > 

Before she had any realizing sense of time, 
the church had filled again for high mass. 
Then the lighting of the great white altar fas- 
cinated her, and she felt an intense desire to live 
again through such a moment of assurance as 
she had lately experienced — to hear that bell 
ring again, to smell the incense, and to believe 
that in some wonderful, wonderful way it was all 
a part of that prayer of hers that Heaven was 
bound to answer. 

So she stayed on, in her far-away pew, to the 
remotest corner of which she was crowded as the 
enormous church filled to its capacity. With the 
entrance of the preacher into the pulpit, though, 



318 JUST FOLKS 

she was conscious of a distinct "let-down." 
She had never liked sermons ; they dealt with 
things so formally. Even when the priests made 
their greatest efforts to be plain-spoken and 
understandable, she seldom got any personal help 
from their discourse. They were prone to 
denunciations of adultery and drunkenness and 
other sins of which she was innocent, and to 
vague exhortations looking toward a hereafter on 
which her imagination had never taken any 
but the feeblest hold. But what was the priest 
saying ? Something about a little household 
that the Lord had loved, and one of its two sisters 
had gone astray ! 

The woman sitting next to Mary nudged her 
other neighbor and glanced in the direction of 
Mary's face, thrust forward so as not to lose a 
syllable, the tears chasing each other unheeded 
down its furrows. In her lap Mary's gnarled 
hands were clasped in painful intensity. 

Over and over, since she was a tiny child in 
Ireland, she had heard this Catholic rendering 
of Mary of Bethany's story, but it had never 
meant anything to her. To-day it meant every- 
thing. 

She was full of the wonder of it when Beth 
came, and together the two sat in the "parlie" 
that was waiting for Angela, and talked of her 
coming home. 

The shadows grew deeper and deeper as they 



JUST FOLKS 319 

talked. The fervor of Mary's faith communi- 
cated itself to the girl who had lived so much less 
life than she, and Beth thought she had never 
lived through such a vivid hour. 

When she rose to go, Mary said, "Wait till 
I git a light," and went into the kitchen to get 
the lamp. (She never had oil to spare for the 
one in the "parlie.") As she lighted the lamp, 
a sound at the door caused her nearly to drop 
the light. Hurrying to the back door, she threw 
it open, and with the lamp in one hand, stood 
peering out into the black yard. 

"Here, pussy, pussy!" she called. Then, as 
her call was answered, "My God ! what did I tell 
ye ? 'Tis the wan-eyed cat !" 

The next morning the postman brought a letter. 
Mary was not surprised to get it. She could 
not read it, but she could make out the signature, 
written in the large, unformed hand wherewith 
Angela had covered every available space in the 
days of her brief but laborious apprenticeship 
to the art of writing. 

With trembling hand Mary tucked the letter 
in her bosom, hastily got ready herself and 
Annie, and went over to Beth's. But Beth was 
gone on her day's rounds, and Mary had to take 
the letter to her sister Maggie's. Maggie was 
younger and had enjoyed more educational 
advantages. She could "r'ade printin'" easily, 



320 JUST FOLKS 

and "writin"' fairly well if it hadn't too many 
flourishes. 

"She says," spelled out Mrs. Kavanagh, 
"'Dear Ma, I'm at — West Randolph Street 
I'm sick I'm afraid to go home count of Pa Your 
Loving daughter Angela Ann Casey.' I'll go 
wid ye," finished Maggie in the same breath. 

" She haven't heard about her pa !" cried Mary. 

Out of her small store of tawdry finery Maggie 
lent several articles to make Mary " look more 
drissy," and while they got ready for their 
momentous journey, Mary related the events 
of the day before. 

"I knew," said Maggie, "theer was more in 
that wan-eyed cat ner what annywan but me an' 
the fortune-teller belaved." 

The number they sought on West Randolph 
Street was not far from the fateful Haymarket 
Square. There was a store on the ground 
floor, with living-rooms behind. And above, 
a long flight of oil-cloth-covered stairs led to a 
"hotel." 

They inquired first in the store, but no one 
there had ever heard of Angela Ann. Then, 
with fast-beating hearts, the women mounted to 
the office of the hotel, an inside room facing the 
head of the first flight of stairs. The door stood 
open, and they looked, before entering, into a 
gas-lighted room furnished with yellow-painted 
wooden arm-chairs ranged along the walls and 



JUST FOLKS 321 

flanked by a sparser row of cuspidors ; and near 
the door, behind a small desk like a butcher- 
store cashier's sat the "clerk," chewing vigor- 
ously and expectorating without accuracy. 

"Yes, she has a room here," he answered to 
Mary's question, "hall room, rear, third floor." 

"In a minute!" called Angela Ann's voice 
when Mary had knocked. 

"My God, 'tis hersilf," sobbed Mary, and 
fell a-weeping violently. 

"Ma !" cried Angela Ann, and threw open the 
door. She had been in bed when they knocked, 
and had not waited to put on her clothes when 
she heard her mother's voice. At the touch 
of her, the clinging -clasp of her poor, thin, 
cold little arms, Mary grew hysterical. 

"Don't, Ma, don't," begged Angela. 

"She've grieved hersilf sick over ye," said 
Maggie, unable to forbear this much of a repri- 
mand now that the sinner was found. "Iver 
since ye wint she've been like wan crazy. Come, 
Mary, now ye've got her, brace up !" 

"Sure, Ma," echoed the girl, "now ye've got 
me, brace up. I ain't never goin' t' lave ye no 
more, Ma — honest t' God, I ain't." 

"Wheer ye been?" Mary raised her head 
and, drawing back from the girl, peered anxiously 
into her face. "In God's name, Ang'la Ann, 
wheer you been ? Tell me ye've kep' dacint, 
girl ; tell me ye've kep' dacint !" 



322 JUST FOLKS 

Angela sat down on the dingy, disordered 
bed and began to cry, hiding her face in her 
hands. For a long moment the silence, save for 
her soft sobbing, was profound. Then a low 
moan escaped Mary, a moan of anguish inexpress- 
ible, showing how deeply, notwithstanding her 
resolution of yesterday, she had cherished the 
hope of her daughter's safety. 

Angela raised her head. The pain in her 
mother's moan was beyond her comprehension, 
and she could understand it only as horror 
and condemnation. 

"Are ye — are ye goin' t' t'row me off?" 
she cried. 

Mary looked at her in pity that she could ask 
such a thing. "T'row ye off ? Ah, me girl ! 
If ye'll on'y stick t' me as long as I'll stick t' you, 
'tis all I'll ask o' Hivin. 'Tis fer yer sake I was 
prayin' no harm had come t' ye — not fer mine. 
Whativer happen t' ye, ye're me Ang'la Ann 
that I nursed from yer first brith." 

"An' — an' Pa ?" said Angela. 

For a moment, in the joy of seeing her girl 
and the pain of knowing the girl's innocence 
was gone, Mary had forgotten Pa. Now, it all 
came flooding back to her — that culmination 
in the drama of her life — and the pride of Pa's 
splendid death suddenly transformed her. 

"Have ye heerd nothin' 'bout yer pa ?" 
she asked Angela. It did not seem possible 



JUST FOLKS 323 

to Mary there was any one who had not heard 
his fame. 

Angela's bitterness against her pa did not 
melt at news of his death; it was only when 
Mary's further descriptions suggested the horror 
of his sufferings, that Angela's tears began to 
fall. 

"If yer pa was here," Mary went on, "he'd 
be fer havin' a tur'ble wingince on the felly that 
lid ye away." 

Angela Ann smiled grimly, through her tears. 
"I guess theer's quite a few pas lookin' fer 
'im," she said, "but they don' never seem t' fin' 
him." 

"Did he promise t' marry ye ?" asked Mary, 
anxiously. > 

"He did not! He promised t' make me a 
primmy donny !" 

"What's that?" 

"'Tis a kin' of actress that wear tights an' 
sing. I'm after r'adin' in books how gran' they 
be, an' in the papers it tell how all the swell 
fellies do be runnin' after 'em with diming neck- 
lusses an' marryin' of 'em. An' 'tis all a lie!" 
she finished, shrilly. 

"Ye see!" Mary could not refrain from re- 
minding her. "I tol' ye thim theayters was all 
wrong. We kind o' t'ought it might be thim 
that got ye, an' yer pa wint t' see this here 
Halberg, whin we foun' the card out o' yer 



324 JUST FOLKS 

pocke' book. But he said he niver hear tell 
o' ye." 

"Did Pa go theer ?" questioned Angela Ann, 
eagerly. She was all interest to know how the 
search for her had been carried on. "An' was 
my pitcher in the papers ?" 

"Yer pitcher was not in the papers," her 
mother answered, "an' not wan but yer own 
kin know yeVe been missin' ; so ye kin hoi' up 
yer hid an' look th' world in the face. An' 
may God fergive yer mother th' lies she've toP 
t' save yer name !" 

Thus encouraged about the future, Angela 
seemed inclined to tell about the past. 

Yes, it had been Halberg, she admitted. A 
young fellow she used to meet up at Peter the 
Greek's had taken her to a couple o' shows and 
asked her how she'd like to be a "primmy 
donny." And when she said she would, he had 
taken her to see Halberg. Halberg "engaged" 
her. He told her not to say anything to her 
folks about her new job until she could send 
home her first week's pay and surprise them. 
And she "needn't bring no clothes along," be- 
cause the "company" would furnish her with 
what she needed. 

"Did they?" interrupted Maggie, breath- 
lessly eager. 

"They did!" said Angela, her pallid cheeks 
flushing at the recollection. She had a strange 



JUST FOLKS 325 

feeling toward her mother and aunt ; partly she 
felt scorn of their uncomprehendingness, and 
partly she felt shame and could not think how 
to tell them what things had befallen her. 

She had been sent out of town, down to those 
same soft-coal regions of Illinois where her pa 
had met his death. And the "director" of the 
"company" had tried to teach her a few tricks 
of dancing and singing. They went from town 
to town and "performed" in the saloons. And 
after a while, Angela fell sick and was abandoned 
by the rest. Then a foul-tongued, soft-hearted 
woman whose husband kept the saloon where 
Angela lay ill, was touched by the girl's exceed- 
ing distress and let her stay there until she re- 
covered and earned enough money, by lamp- 
filling and dishwashing and like chores, to pay 
her way home. 

"'You better go back t' yer ma — that's 
wheer you better go,' that woman says to me; 
an' Sata'd'y mornin' she bundled me off. But 
I was scared to go home right t' wanst, till I 
seen how it was goin' t' be — so I come here. 
An' I have been awful sick-like iver since I come." 

"Why, in Hivin's name!" Maggie broke in, 
"did ye niver sind yer ma a line before, t' say 
ye were alive ? Ye needn' 'a' tol wheer ye was, 
but ye could 'a' said ye were in th' land o' th' 
livin', surely ?" 

"I was 'shamed," whimpered Angela. "I 



326 JUST FOLKS 

t'ought ye wouldn' keer wheer I was, whin I 
wasn' doin' daycint."" 

"T'ink o' that, now !" cried Mary. "That's 
all a girl do know about her ma ! Whin yer a 
mother yersilf ye'll know better, an' not till 
thin, I suppose." 

There was a great deal about Angela's story 
that her mother could not understand, and 
there were some things about it that Angela 
herself did not understand. But little Beth, 
"putting two and two together," saw some things 
very clearly. 

"Mary," she said, sitting in the parlie and 
hearing the story of Angela Ann, "that proves 
to me what I've suspected for a long time. I 
didn't know about O. Halberg and his end of it, 
but I've been pretty sure that Peter the Greek 
was a bad man, and that he was using his store 
as a place to lure young girls. That fellow that 
was so 'nice' to poor little Angela, was what is 
called a cadet. He makes it his business to fill 
girls' heads with flighty notions and to lead 
them away from home. This is a pretty foxy 
game — this particular one — but don't you 
see ? Peter draws the girls there with his candy, 
and soda, and fruit, and nuts, his electric piano, 
and all that. He has one or two of these cadets 
who treat the girls to ice-cream and flatter them 
and take them to cheap shows. Then, when 
they get the girl's confidence, they take her to 



JUST FOLKS 327 

Halberg, and he sells her or rents her to some 
wretch who takes her out of town and into a 
life of the — the vilest shame. Do you see, 
Angela?" 

Angela nodded. 

"Now," Beth went on, "I've thought for 
some time that this Peter was doing something 
of the sort. In my work, I trace a lot of trouble 
to his store. But I've never* been able to get a 
good case on him. This is a Greek ward, you 
know — the Greeks are voters — they stand 
together, solid. It's hard to prove anything 
against one of them. They lie for one another 
— like the Italians — and not against one an- 
other like the Irish and the Jews. And the 
police, controlled by politics, don't like to prose- 
cute a solid mass of voters — see ? Now, I 
didn't know what Peter was doing with girls he 
lured away, but I have felt sure he was luring 
them. If you would prosecute — " 

"Sure I'll prosecute!" cried Mary, her eyes 
flashing fury. 

"Wait!" said Beth. "To prosecute, you 
must testify — you must tell about Angela — 
she must tell about herself — and you can't 
keep it secret — can't keep it out of the papers." 

Mary's expression changed — protest was in 
every line of her countenance. "I couldn' do 
that!" she murmured. "I'd niver do that." 

"Not to save some other mothers' girls ?" 



328 JUST FOLKS 

Mary shook her head. "I'd like to," she 
said, "but I couldn' — fer Ang'la's sake." 

"I don' keer, Ma !" cried Angela. "I'd just 
as lieves tell !" 

Her mother looked at her in astonishment, 
"Ye don' know what yer sayin'," she declared. 

"An' you don' know what they're doin' t' 
girls !" was Angela's retort. 

Beth, quivering with fury against the de- 
stroyers of girlhood, pleaded with Mary — in 
vain. Angela Ann, smarting under the sense of 
her unspeakable wrongs, pleaded too. 

"I can't," said Mary, weeping piteously. "I 
can't do't!" 

So Beth went away. She usually went and 
came between Maxwell and Henry Streets by 
way of Waller Street, the eastern, as Blue Island 
Avenue was the western, boundary of Henry 
Street. But to-day as she reached the sidewalk 
level, she turned toward Blue Island Avenue. 
Interest in Angela's return was still so fresh 
that none of the small Caseys offered, as was 
their custom, to accompany Beth "a piece" of 
her way home. 

Peter the Greek knew her enmity — knew she 
had warned girls against going to his store and 
parents against letting their girls go. He would 
not receive her call affably, she was well aware. 
But the resolution of her short, quick steps never 
faltered. 



JUST FOLKS 329 

Peter's store was not splendid, except by- 
comparison with other shops "on Blue Islan'." 
Halsted Street had a dozen Greek stores, be- 
tween Twelfth Street and Madison, that made 
Peter Demapopulos's look very small and dingy 
indeed. But Peter was doing very well, finan- 
cially, and had not — for a Greek so recently 
advanced from basket-peddling to shop-keeping 
— a weary while to wait between his present 
and the dreamed-of day when he should own a 
gaudy store on Halsted Street. Even now, his 
stock showed that genius for display where- 
with the Greek seems always able to invest his 
colorful commodities. And there were the soda- 
fountain, the electric piano, the ice-cream tables, 
the candies — more than enough to lure Angela 
from that back kitchen ! 

In the front of the store, as Beth entered, a 
boy was buying cocoanut taffy. Peter was not 
visible. The Greek who was in charge, called 
himself Peter's brother; Peter said he was no 
relation. Beth was familiar with this disputed 
relationship, and indifferent to the truth about 
it. 

"Where's Peter?" she asked, when the cus- 
tomer was gone. 

"Down town !" said "brother" so promptly 
that Beth was sure he lied. 

But there was nothing to do, then, but go 
away. 



XVII 

In the Nineteenth Ward were one or two 
Settlements so much smaller than Hull House 
as seldom to be heard of beyond the immediate 
neighborhood. In one of them, Beth Tully re- 
ceived, once a week, the obligatory visits of her 
probation boys. 

Her visits to their homes were seldom wholly 
satisfactory, for the boys themselves were not 
often to be found. Either they were "workin'," 
or they were "to school," or they were "out 
playin'," far be it from the mothers to know 
where. But Monday nights when Beth brought 
them together at the Settlement, she was able 
to gather — not in confession so much as in 
gossip — a good deal of information about her 
charges. 

On the night of that eventful Monday when 
Angela Ann returned, Beth was at her post by 
the big table in the main hall. She always made 
the occasion as social as possible, so the boys 
would like to come. And they came here more 
readily than to any other place. 

To-night, the usual activities of the smaller 
Settlements — which are the same as those of 
the larger, only they don't go so far and are 

330 



JUST FOLKS 331 

not so numerous — were in fairly full blast. 
There was bowling below-stairs, a choral society 
in the Guild Hall, dancing in the big room where 
babies were " kindergartened " by day; type- 
writers were clicking in the commercial school- 
room, sewing-machines whirring in the dress- 
making class, and awful, groaning noises proceed- 
ing from a distant, third-story room where a 
brass band was in process of trying to be a band, 
although at present every bit of brass seemed 
rankly individualistic. 

Beth's manner with her probation boys was a 
delightful study. They felt her youth, her sym- 
pathy, and they lost when with her as much of 
their self-consciousness as boys ever lose in the 
presence of any one. But they never got fa- 
miliar, never lost a certain awe of her not as 
she was but as she could so easily become if a 
fellow overestimated her sentiment and under- 
estimated her lightning-quick intelligence. 

For instance, there was Angelo Vacca who 
was struggling — not too hard — with a gypsy 
spirit which loved any chance shelter better 
than a home and any game of chance better 
than the best steady income that ever drove a 
body mad with its dead certainty. Angelo sold 
papers, nominally, and kept two very bright 
black eyes wide open for "better" business. In 
order to insure his return home nights and his 
fair division of spoils with his widowed "mud- 



332 JUST FOLKS 

der," Beth had devised a scheme whereby Mrs. 
Vacca was to put down on a paper each night 
the sum Angelo took to her, and to make oppo- 
site to it a mark X, to signify that Angelo had 
slept at home. Once a week this paper was pre- 
sented to Beth's scrutiny. 

"Forty-seven cents," she would read aloud 
from the paper bearing what Angelo called "me 
mudder's slignature," "fifty-three cents, nineteen 
cents — how's that, Angelo ?" 

"Bad day!" Angelo would say promptly, 
"got stuck." 

Beth knew that if Angelo ever "got stuck" 
with papers it was because he was trying an- 
other "line" unsuccessfully. Evidently his 
"mudder" had protested, too, because next day 
the record was sixty-one cents. 

Then, "Dollar-nineteen ! How's that, An- 
gelo?" 

"Fine day!" answered Angelo, smiling en- 
gagingly and showing all his white teeth. "Work 
very hard." 

Beth knew he had never earned a dollar- 
nineteen selling papers ; and that if he had 
given his "mudder" so much, it was gambler 
generosity, arguing a much larger sum retained. 
But she kept her own counsel, feeling sure that 
some of the other boys would throw light on 
the dark places of Angelo's history. Sure 
enough ! Herman Rubovitz had failed to take 



JUST FOLKS 333 

home any wages on a certain pay day. His pa 
had beat him and his ma had sent word "by de 
p'leece lady." Herman tried to exonerate him- 
self by pleading the temptation, nay, the forcible 
insistence of certain bad boys that he "shoot 
craps." What boys ? Well, August Ankowitzer, 
and Tony Kapusta, and Johnny Mishtawa, and 
Angelo Vacca. 

Next time a suspiciously large amount ap- 
peared above Mrs. Vacca's "slignature," Beth's 
blue eyes lifted from the paper and fastened 
themselves with terrible searchingness on Angelo's 
face. 

"Hand 'em over !" she commanded briefly. 

"What'm?" asked Angelo, wide-eyed with 
surprise. > 

"The dice — the bones!" was her laconic 
order. 

Angelo "dug down" with a grimy hand and 
produced them. 

"Now the loaded ones !" said Beth, matter- 
of-factly. 

"Dewhat?" 

"The loaded ones ! You don't win money like 
that playin' on the level." 

Angelo looked a minute at the stern face of 
the little "p'leece lady," then dug into another 
pocket and handed over the loaded dice. 

"Gee !" he remarked admiringly, as he threw 
them down, "but yer a wise guy !" 



334 JUST FOLKS 

"Humph!" said Beth, loftily, as if that 
were a very trifling exhibition of her occult 
powers. 

This Monday evening, Hart Ferris was there 

— as he often was — to wait for her and go, 
perhaps, for a little car ride after hep work was 
done. She had tried to get him at the office, 
during the afternoon, to tell him that Angela 
Ann was found, but had not succeeded in find- 
ing him. 

Ferris came into the hall of the Settlement 
while some of the last of the boys were report- 
ing to Beth. He thought he could tell, as he 
sat watching her, that something out of the 
ordinary had happened ; but maybe it was only 
after he heard that he remembered having felt 
that way. 

When the last boy was gone, Beth drew a 
sigh of mingled weariness and relief. Then she 
looked up at Ferris, standing over her. 

Beth was not one of those who waste time, 
when about to disclose news, with asking: 
"What do you suppose?" and waiting for a 
needless assurance : "I can't guess." Her direct 
ways had nothing to do with such dillydallying 

— unless she was obviously mischievous and 
teasing. 

"Angela Ann has come home !" she said. 

"She has ? Where was she ?" 

Beth told him ; told him, too, how Angela 



JUST FOLKS 33S 

had got there. She was in the midst of telling 
him about it when Mary Casey came in. 

"Why, Mary!" said Beth. She read in 
Mary's face that this was no casual call, and if 
she had not so read, first thought would have 
reminded her that on no ordinary errand would 
Mary have left home this evening of Angela 
Ann's return — not even to go down town to her 
scrubbing. 

Mary misinterpreted Beth's surprise. "I ain' 
workin' this avenin'," she explained ; "I couldn'." 

"Of course you couldn't," Beth agreed. 

"I — I don' t'ink you understan'," Mary 
went on, falteringly. "It isn' 'count o' Ang'la 
comin' home — not jest. I couldn' afford t' 
stay home jest fer that — me bein' the on'y wan 
of us wid an income, these days. It's — it's — " 
She looked at Ferris, and then appealingly at 
Beth. 

"He knows, Mary," said Beth, gently, "but 
if you'd rather he would go away — " 

Mary seemed to hesitate for a moment, as if 
trying to decide. Then, "No, he better stay," 
she said, "he'll understan'." She glanced about 
the Settlement hall, to see if there were any one 
else in sight, and having satisfied herself that 
there was no danger of being overheard, she drew 
closer to Beth and Ferris, and began : — 

"After you wint away to-day, Miss Beth, an' the 
childern got t'rough rubberin' at Ang'la Ann an' 



336 JUST FOLKS 

wint back t 9 theer play, Ang'la got talkin' 
more free-like — 'bout what she'd been t'rough, 
I mane." Here Mary's face began to burn with 
crimson shame. "Theer was a lot she tried 
t' till me that I couldn't understan' — seem like 
it was clear beyon' my way o' t'inkin'. But 
Mikey — he was theer an' heerd 'er — he — must 
'a' understood, fer I niver see anny wan look the 
way he looked. He didn' let hem ner haw out o' 
him — you know his way ! But thim rid spots on 
his cheeks burned like two flames that's fanned ; 
an' theer was a look in the eyes of him that froze 
me more'n all Ang'la said. Pritty soon he put on 
his hat an' wint away — widout a word ; an' 
I ain' seen him since. Whin he was gon', Ang'la 
an' me talked more 'bout what you said — me 
feelin' I couldn' stan' t' do it an' all the while 
somethin' in me tellin' me I couldn' stan' not t 9 
do it. 'Jest l'ave me t' t'ink till avenin',' I says — 
knowin' I had t' decide whither we was t' till 
lies t' ivrywan about wheer Ang'la was, or t' 
till the trut' an' help save other girls. An' 
come avenin', I wint over t' the church t' set a 
while in the quiet an' say me prayers an' ask 
A'mighty God t' sind me some sign. I flit like 
that man in the Bible I'm after hearin' preached 
about, wan time — I t'ink 'twas Abraham. He 
was goin' t' kill his bye, t' show his fait* in the 
Lord — an' whin he wasn' wan minute from 
havin' it done, the Lord told him niver t' min' — 



JUST FOLKS 337 

sure he could see he mint t' do it, an' that was 
enough — a sheep'd do instid. I — I dunno 
what made that come into me min', but I t'ought 
mebbe if I could be willin' t' sacrifice Ang'la, 
if I could mane that well, I'd git a sign from 
God A'mighty that he'd save thim other girls wid- 
out makin' me put the black mark o' shame 
on mine. Was that wrong ? I prayed an' I 
prayed, but I couldn' git no feelin' that it'd 
be all right agin I didn' do it. So thin I done 
the stations o' the Cross, an' I raymimbered 
how the blissed Saviour prayed that same way, 
too ; but it couldn' be, an' he wint on t' death 
t' save the world. It's bitterer'n death t' me — 
but I got t' do it!" 

Ferris had turned away to hide the emotion 
he could not control. Beth's tears were falling 
furiously. But Mary Casey, past the point of 
tears, was dry-eyed. Dull red burned on the 
high cheek-bones of her thin face; and the 
majesty that sublime acquiescence gives was in 
the poise of her toil-bent figure. 

The crashing thud of balls in the bowling alley 
continued without ceasing; the shuffling of 
dancing feet, the pounding out of ragtime 
from the gymnasium piano, the repeated false 
starts of the Caruso (formerly De Reszke) 
Society, the- whirring and clicking and tooting, 
were in full activity; "the reclamation of the 
masses" was going forward vociferously. But 



338 JUST FOLKS 

only Beth and Ferris knew that in the Settle- 
ment's well-nigh deserted entrance hall, a poverty- 
ridden woman who could not read her name/was 
making for humanity a bigger sacrifice than 
humanity would ever comprehend. 

"Mary," said Beth when she could command 
herself to speak, "you — you are a great woman ! 
I — when I think of you, Mary, dear, I can 
only think how God must love you — how — 
how proud of you He must be !" 

But such was the greatness of Mary that she 
could not understand. "D'ye t'ink He knows 
I've tried?" she begged wistfully. And then 
her tears came. 

There was time, then, for only a brief conference 
about what should be done to-morrow to begin 
the prosecution of those who had entrapped 
Angela. Then Mary, unwilling to stay too long 
away from home, said she must go. But before 
she went, she wanted to see the Head Resident 
for a minute, about some work she was to do at 
the Settlement that week. 

While Mary was gone, Beth and Ferris talked 
rapidly, planning a campaign of action. They 
were in the midst of it when the street-door was 
rather violently flung open, and a gaunt youth, 
breathing hard as if pressed in pursuit, came 
into the hall. It was Mikey ! 

Beth had tried to interest Mikey in some of the 



JUST FOLKS 339 

Settlement activities. It was not an easy under- 
taking, but Mikey had consented to come a few 
times, especially on Monday nights, when he 
knew Beth was there. It was late, to-night, 
though, for any of the things Mikey ever cared 
to do at the Settlement ; and he had about him an 
air so different from his usual doggedness as to 
be quite startling. 

"Mikey !" cried little Beth, jumping to her feet. 

The sound of her voice seemed to rouse Mikey ; 
he was like one who had fled thither in a night- 
mare and now, waking slowly, could not remem- 
ber why he had come. 

M I — I — is it too late ? " he began to stammer, 
backing toward the door. 

There was a wild light in his eyes, such as 
Beth had never seen there before. Inwardly, 
she quailed before it ; but there was no irresolution 
in her manner as she stepped quickly up to him 
and said : — 

"Have you been drinking, Mikey ?" It was 
her fear and Mary's that in the idleness of the 
strike Mikey would "take to drink." 

"No'm." Mikey's sullen manner was return- 
ing. 

"Fighting?" As often as they had discussed 
the strike — she and Mikey — they had agreed 
that the one thing a man that loved his union 
must not do was to bring discredit on it by any 
deed of violence. 



34° JUST FOLKS 



"No'm. 



?> 



" Then what — ? Mikey ! What's the matter 
with your coat — your hands ?" 

"Aw, nothin' !" cried Mikey, impatiently. 
And, jerking open the door, he was gone. 

"Wasn' that my Mikey?" Mary Casey 
had returned just in time to see the boy lurch 
out. 

"Yes. Before I had a chance to tell him you 
were here, he went away again." 

"What'd he want ? Was he huntin' me?" 

" I don't know — I started to ask him, and 
he went without answering. He seemed ex- 
cited—" 

Mary looked anxious. "I'll hurry an' come 
up wid him," she said, starting for the door. 
As she reached out to open it, it was opened 
from without, and a small boy of the neigh- 
borhood rushed past her, wide-eyed with ex- 
citement. 

"Peter de Greek is murdered in his store!" 
he cried, as he sped through the hall, intent on 
creating sensations in each separate assembly at 
the Settlement. 

Mary's knees trembled — she swayed — and 
Ferris caught her. Beth dropped back weakly 
into her chair. For a moment, each one of the 
three avoided the others' eyes. Then Mary 
staggered to her feet. 



JUST FOLKS 341 

"What' re ye goin' t' do ?" she asked ; and her 
tone was a challenge. Refusing Ferris's con- 
tinued support, she stood across the doorway 
as if to intercept pursuit of her boy. 

"Do ?" Beth echoed. "Is there anything to 
do?" 

Mary seemed reassured by Beth's dazed answer. 
"Sure there is not!" she declared. "We dunno 
what happened, at all, an' 'tis no place av ours 
t' say annythin'." 

Then Beth began to comprehend. "You may 
be sure I shan't say anything, until we know 
more," she said. 

"An' him ?" nodding toward Ferris. "Thim 
that write fer papers is awful keen fer news o' 
blood." 

Beth looked appealingly at Ferris. 

"I can't stop what comes to light," he said. 
"I may be forced to — " 

"What could force you — ?" 

The sound of voices made Beth jump to her 
feet. "The thing for all three of us to do," 
she said, " is to get out of here, quick, before people 
come here discussing the murder and asking 
questions." 

Out in the street it seemed more possible to 
think. 

"Mary," said Beth, "unless Mikey was seen, 
there's nothing to bring suspicion on him as the 
— the one who may have killed the Greek. 



342 JUST FOLKS 

It isn't as if it were tomorrow night, after we 
had made the charge against the Greek. Now, 
nobody knows but us ; and we — " 

" Ain' goin' t' till," Mary broke in ; and there 
was desperate defiance in the way she said it. 



XIX 

Beth and Ferris walked home with Mary, 
partly because they hated to leave her alone 
in her terrible anxiety, and partly because they 
felt they must know if Mikey had gone home. 

"Perhaps I just thought he seemed excited," 
Beth said; "perhaps it was what you had been 
telling me, that made me think of it And I 
suppose he left, that way, because I asked him 
questions." She dared not tell Mary what she 
had thought she saw on Mikey's hands and coat. 

Mary made no reply; she dared not hope as 
much. 

"If he's not here," she said, when they came 
to the top of her flight of stairs, "I'll come 
right back an' let ye know. If I don' come back 
ye'll know 'tis all right." 

When she had gone down the creaking steps 
and disappeared in the blackness below, Beth 
and Ferris had their first opportunity to speak 
what was on their minds. 

"I don't see," Beth began, quaking nervously, 
"how I can stand it for Mary, for Mikey, for all 
of us, if he has done this thing. Not that I 
think it's any shame to rid the world of that 
Greek! But the Law will hold it criminal — 

343 



344 JUST FOLKS 

and what we'll have to go through, makes me 
sick at heart to think about. 

" I won't let you go through it ! There are 
limits to what I'll see you stand. You'll just 
have to — " 

Beth sighed impatiently. "Don't be silly — 
please ! " she entreated wearily. " If Mary and 
Mikey have it to go through, what can keep 
it from weighing like lead on me ?" 

Mary was gone so long, they began to hope. 
But presently her step was heard, heavy, on the 
stairs ; she was dragging herself with difficulty 
to the sidewalk level. 

" He haven't come," she whispered, " an' I 
dassent l'ave the childern know what fear is in 
me heart." 

"If he doesn't come home to-night, will you 
send one of the children over to tell me, first 
thing in the morning?" Beth asked. "And 
meanwhile, Mr. Ferris and I will go over to 
Blue Island Avenue, and see if we can find 
out there, or at Maxwell Street Station, if any 
suspicion points to Mikey. If they're after him, 
we'll hurry back and tell you. If we don't come 
back, you may know that — so far, at least — 
they haven't suspected him." 

Over on the Avenue, a curious crowd was col- 
lected as close to the store of Peter the Greek 
as the police guard would permit. Backed up 
to the curb was the patrol wagon, awaiting the 



JUST FOLKS 34S 

grewsome burden for the morgue. An officer 
Beth knew was standing beside the wagon steps, 
and of him she inquired, as casually as she could, 
about the murder. 

"Can't make out much about it, so far," 
he told her. "It was a knife affair — " Beth 
shuddered when she thought of Mikey's hands. 
"An' they're quiet, you know. There was people 
in the store, gettin' soda and candy and ice- 
cream — quite a few of them. That fella that 
says he's Peter the Greek's brother was workin' 
the fountain. He run out o' somethin', an' Peter 
went back to that place behind the partition, 
where they unpacked fruit an' kept supplies, t' 
git it. He didn' come back, an' he didn' come 
back ; so the brother — or whatever he is — 
went to get the stuff himself. An' there this 
Peter lay, with his heart stuck through. The 
electric piano was goin' so loud they didn' even 
hear 'im fall. An' the back door was standin' 
open." 

"Does the brother — or whoever he is — 
know anybody who — who might have done it ?" 

"He ain' sayin' anythin'. Them Greeks is 
terrible close-mouthed, an' they lie fer one an- 
other like a pack o' thieves. He may have 
stuck the knife in, hisself. That bunch o' 
boys an' girls he called in when he foun' the body 
— as he says — wouldn' have sense enough 
among 'em t' know if he acted most surprised or 



346 JUST FOLKS 

guilty. Anyway we'll have to hold him till we 
know." 

"You have no other clew ?" 

"Not yet — that I've heard of. It on'y 
happened a half an hour ago." 

Still further to satisfy Beth, Ferris went into 
Maxwell Street Station before they returned to 
Liza's. His newspaper connection, and his fre- 
quent presence in the vicinity where Miss Tully 
lived — both well known to the Maxwell Street 
force — gave him abundant excuse for an inter- 
est in the murder. What Beth hoped they might, 
at this propitious time, find out, was whether 
the police had any definite ideas about Peter 
as employed in the traffic in girls. They had ! 

"I guess he was a pretty tough citizen, all 
right," the desk sergeant opined to Ferris, 
"and got only part of what was comin' to 
him." 

"How's that?" 

"Oh, he was mixed up in a dirty trade, without 
doubt. We ain't never had no specific charge 
against him — them charges is hard to get — 
but I s'pose some poor devil has tried to avenge 
his girl and," confidentially, "I kind o' hope 
he gets away with it." 

"That settles our case," remarked Beth as 
they went on their way. "We can't prosecute 
Peter, now — he's gone where his case is known. 
And any mention of him in connection with 



JUST FOLKS 347 

Angela Ann would bring suspicion at once on 
Mikey." 

"Don't you think Mikey did it ?" 

"I'm afraid he did." 

"Then — why, Beth! You're an officer of 
the Law." 

Beth winced. "I know I am," she said, "but 
I'm not going to say anything to put Mikey in 
jeopardy. That Greek is well made way with — 
the world is better without him. Mikey has 
never had a chance in this world ; do you think 
I'm going to put his neck in a noose and see 
him sent out of the world, for driving a knife 
into the black heart of that Greek ? Besides, I 
don't know that he did it. Suppose he didn't ! 
Suppose I tell the police what I surmise, and 
they get him — and don't get anybody else. 
You're a newspaper man ; you know how such 
things go ! And if he did do it, for Angela, I'll 
have more hope of Mikey than I've ever had 
before — poor, sluggish, unawakened Mikey. If 
he cared that much, he has more in him than I 
dared to hope." 

Ferris listened to her without trying to in- 
terrupt. When she had quite evidently come 
to the end of her plea — pleading with herself, 
he knew, as much as with him — he said : — 

"Beth, you were hired to uphold the law, 
not to interpret it. Judges decide what law 
ought to be; you belong only to that arm of 



348 JUST FOLKS 

law and order which enforces statutes. You 
have no right whatever to decide what you think 
the law ought to be ; you are under oath to en- 
force it as it is. This is the thing I've always 
told you would prove to you, some day, that 
women have no business fooling with the law. 
You are all sentimentalists. It isn't in you to 
have respect for the law as an abstract thing, 
to care above everything to maintain it in its 
integrity. Your pity is greater than your sense 
of justice; you want to make an exception of 
each individual case. There'd be no law, if you 
had your way ! You'd make and unmake it for 
each separate offender. Natural law ought to 
teach you better. Nature makes no exceptions. 
You have neither legal nor logical authority to 
interpret the law for yourself ; you are sworn to 
uphold it as it has made itself out of generations 
of demonstrated expediency." 

Beth's eyes flashed. "I'm tired of expedi- 
ence!" she cried hotly. "I'm tired of stand- 
ing by and seeing Mary, and others like her, 
stagger under unbearable burdens of woe, and 
hearing you, and others like you, talk about the 
law and about the hand of God. I believe God 
hates such hypocrisy ! I believe He is sick at 
heart because we stand around and prate about 
expediency, and don't rush in, mad with the 
desire to ease suffering. I'd be ashamed to 
think about God, if I turned against Mary now !" 



JUST FOLKS 349 

Ferris was very quiet — his tones were omi- 
nously low and even, betokening the grip he 
was exercising. "If you perjure yourself," he 
replied, "you will only delay Mary's heartbreak. 
For, if Mikey did what you fear he did, and you 
shield him, and he goes free, will his respect for 
the law be very great ? Will an experience like 
this help him to be a good citizen, to be very 
mindful not to break other laws ? You know it 
won't ! Will it be good for Johnny — for 
Dewey — ?" 

"Talk !" interrupted Beth, sharply, "all talk ! 
If I tell on him, what kind of a citizen will he 
be ? If he is hanged, or sent to prison for life, 
will Johnny and Dewey be better for it ?" 

They were at Beth's door, now, and she 
seemed about to enter abruptly, without saying 
good night. 

"Wait a minute !" Ferris commanded. Beth 
hesitated in the doorway. "You have decided 
for yourself," he said, "but you cannot decide 
for me." 

"What do you mean ?" 

"I mean that I know as much as you do — 
saw and heard the same evidence. If the ques- 
tion comes to you, you may lie — " 

"But you won't !" 

"No, I don't believe I shall. I'm as sorry 
for Mary, for Mikey, as you are ; but I can't see 
that it is right — " 



3 so JUST FOLKS 

Beth slammed the door. 

Everything was still in Liza's rooms, and Beth 
was intensely grateful that she could slip into 
bed without being questioned. 

Of course she could not sleep. Weariness 
closed her heavy eyes, but no merciful uncon- 
sciousness would come. Over and over and 
over in her mind, she turned the possibilities. 
Like Mary, she hoped for a sign. But none 
came. 

As soon as she could get a cup of coffee, in 
the morning, she was away to Henry Street, 
without waiting for word from Mary. 

Mikey was not there. 

Crafty in the defence of her offspring was 
Mary, like any other natural mother. In the 
long watches of that dreadful night when she 
and Angela Ann had sat in the kitchen — strain- 
ing their ears to hear every footfall on the board 
walk between the houses, hoping against hope 
that Mikey would come — Mary had talked in 
whispers to the girl of what they must do if 
Mikey did not come. 

"We can't till thim," the mother said nod- 
ding toward the bedrooms where the children lay 
asleep. "We wouldn' want t' till this why we 
t'ink he done it; an' 'tis better annyway fer 
thim t' know nothin'. Then, agin theer ast 
quistions they'll nade t' till no lies — which 



JUST FOLKS 351 

same is partly fer the sake o' theer souls an' 
partly because I misdoubt the kin' o' lies they 
might be able t' till." 

Mary spoke as if appealing to the girl's judg- 
ment for confirmation ; but it was only the 
craving of her mother heart for understanding 
from her child, that made her speak so. For 
her mind was inflexibly made up to defend 
Mikey at any cost. 

Angela Ann, however, easily agreed ; it was 
the menace of her future that she agreed all too 
easily, bent all too unresistingly to any will 
stronger than her own — which it was hard for 
any will not to be. A bit of thistle-drift was 
Angela; and would have no life "but as the 
wind listeth." Which made it the more im- 
perative that she should be kept where only 
gently favoring winds blow. 

"I'd made up me min' t' till wheer ye'd been, 
so we could git the hound o' hell that took 
money fer yer poor little soul," Mary went on, 
still whispering, "but yer brother have took 
wingince into his own han's, I'm feared. 'Tis 
our business, now, t' kape as still as death 
'bout wheer you been — so's no wan nade sus- 
pect our Mikey-bye o' doin' it." 

To Beth, when she came to Henry Street 
about six o'clock in the morning, Mary repeated 
all this, behind a closed door. 

"There's this about it, Mary," Beth reminded 



352 JUST FOLKS 

her, "if they don't suspect Mikey, and don't 
prosecute any one else — who may be innocent ! 
— it'll all work out well for Angela's good name. 
But if they get Mikey and try him, he'll have 
a chance to get off if it's known what the mur- 
der was committed for." 

"What d'ye mane?" 

Beth explained. 

"Th' unwritten law, d'ye call it ? I should 
t'ink it'd be written big in ivry book that tills 
the law; fer sure 'tis written in the heart of 
ivry man — ivry rale man — that live." 

Beth thought best not to tell Mary what 
weight of sentiment there was opposed to the 
"unwritten law." If she had that to learn in 
bitter experience, it would not help her any to 
know about it now; it was better for her to 
hope that, even if Mikey were caught and tried, 
he might be gently judged because of the motive 
for his crime. 

So they agreed that nothing should be said 
about Angela's experience unless Mikey were 
brought to trial for the death of the Greek. 

"If they don' git him, will he dare t' come 
back, by an' by, d'ye t'ink ?" With the weight 
of worst apprehension lifted, Mary's heart was 
wistful for her boy's return. 

"That's what's bothering me, Mary dear," 
Beth answered. "I — I don't like the idea of 
Mikey hiding from justice — I don't like to 



JUST FOLKS 353 

think where he may be or what he may be 
doing to escape the police. It's an awful life — 
that dodging. Even if Mikey went to the coun- 
try — which he wouldn't be likely to do, because 
he knows so little about country ways — he'd 
never feel safe ; every time he saw any one look- 
ing at him, he'd feel sure he was recognized — 
found out. And a strong character couldn't 
stand that ; and we know Mikey isn't strong. 
If he has stayed in the city, or gone out on the 
road with hoboes, he hasn't a chance for his 
soul's life. He'd be better off in jail, Mary dear, 
standing trial like a man for a man's deed, than 
skulking in such company as he could get into 
in his present plight." 

"Sure, I niver t'ought o' that !" Mary cried, 
dazed by the dreadfulness of this alternative. 
"I dunno what I t'ought he'd be doin', but I 
niver pictured t' mesilf thim t'ings ye till about. 
'Tain't as if theer was annywan on top o' God's 
earth a bye could go to — knockin' on theer door 
in dead o' night an' sayin' 'L'ave me in an' try 
t' pertect me, fer though I've done wrong, I 
mane t' be good.' Theer's no wan that'd under- 
stan' a bye like that — is theer ?" 

Then it flashed on Beth why Mikey had fled 
to her ! He believed — not reasoning, doubt- 
less, but having some dim intuition — that she 
would understand. And he had come to her in 
his plight, and she had failed him. Tears 



2A 



354 JUST FOLKS 

blinded her, and she hid her face from Mary as 
from one that she had betrayed. 

"What is it, darlin' ?" the older woman en- 
treated, kneeling beside the girl and soothing 
her maternally. " YeVe stood too manny o' me 
troubles ! 'Tain't in nature you should stan' 
'em like I kin, not havin' had the practice. 
Don' cry, Miss Beth dear — t'ings '11 come right, 
somehow. God do be kapein' of us all, an' 
He'll do right by thim that niver mint no harm. 
An' sure, I'm glad 'tis Him that have it all t' do, 
not me; fer wan minute I'm of wan min', an' 
the nixt I'm of another. I hope it don' worry 
God A'mighty — all the diffrunt t'ings I do be 
prayin' Him t' do ! Sure, 'tis a good t'ing He 
know His own min' all the while — fer I'm like 
the mayor o' Lim'rick, I dunno mesilf. All 
night I'm prayin', wild-like : ' Don't let thim 
git me bye ! ' An' now me heart is burstin' 
wid th' prayer that Mikey'll be foun' — to- 
day!" 

While Mary talked, Beth so far recovered her 
self-control as to ponder whether she would add 
to Mary's grief or lighten it, by telling Mary 
why she wept. It was that sturdy honesty in 
her which scorned to conceal her own fault, 
that made her tell ; and it proved, as admissions 
so made usually do prove, a bond of deeper 
sympathy between herself and Mary. It is the 
people who are never willing to be blamed or to 



JUST FOLKS 355 

be felt sorry for, who never accomplish real 
service for others. 

It seemed to Beth that if she, in Mary's place, 
suddenly realized how terribly a girl, professing 
the deepest concern for Mikey's welfare, had 
failed him at the crucial moment of his life, she 
would turn on that girl scathingly and denounce 
her for the poor, weak thing she was. But Mary 
had, apparently, no such impulse — did not even 
have it to conquer. 

"It would have been gran','' she admitted, 
"if you could 'a' held 'im — " and there was a 
wistfulness in her face, in her voice, that almost 
broke Beth's heart — "but, Saints above! ye 
couldn' know it then ! Ye didn' know what he 
had done ; an' if ye had, yer first t'ought would 
'a' been like mine, — t' lit 'im git away. Don' 
blame yersilf, Miss Beth dear ! We can't be 
born knowin' ivryt'ing; 'tis on'y whin we git 
chance after chance t' l'arn, an' don' do it, that 
we've anny call fer blame. I'll bet ye, now, 
that whin the nixt bye come t' ye like Mikey 
did, ye'll be ready fer 'im ! An' mebbe — God 
knows — he'll be wan that'll nade ye aven 
more'n what Mikey did." 

So Beth, who had come hoping to comfort, 
went away comforted. She had several cases in 
court that day and she had a lot to do before 
court time, getting together witnesses and other- 
wise trying to serve the ends of justice — for the 



356 JUST FOLKS 

children. "And oh!" Beth reflected as she 
went about her work, "it is so hard to know 
what justice is, for anybody." But her long 
night's vigil had brought her to this, in a world 
where law must reign — as law reigns in all 
the universe — there could be no justice in 
trying to evade the law. "If we could only 
know our laws are right!" she felt, "it would 
be so much easier to insist that they must be 
upheld at any cost — " nor dreamed, dear little 
Beth ! that if there is promise of emended laws 
evolved out of a better understanding of human 
nature and its limitations and its needs, much of 
the world's gratitude therefor must go to such as 
she. 

Her mind was so crowded with things to 
think about, that she forgot to buy a morning 
paper. But Ferris 'phoned to her as soon as he 
thought she had reached the court. 

"They've got Mikey," he said. 

" How do you know ? " 

"Haven't you read the papers ?" 

"No." 

"Well, they picked him up, down town, within 
a few minutes after he left the Settlement. He 
had blood stains on his hands and clothes — you 
know ! — and he was trying to keep out of sight. 
And when taken, he could not, or would not, 
give an account of himself. So they're holding 
him. He gave a fictitious name — but he'll be 



JUST FOLKS 357 

identified, of course, as soon as any one from the 
John Worthy sees him." 

"How do you know it's Mikey ?" 

"I've seen him. The murder was given me 
to ' cover, ' because of my known familiarity 
with the ward and conditions there. As soon 
as I heard of this 'suspect' that had been taken, 
I felt sure it was Mikey. He is sullen and won't 
talk. It's an awful mix-up for me, Beth ! I 
hate to go against you, to take the matter out 
of your hands ; but can't you see ? Think of 
the position you put me in !" 

It was on the tip of Beth's tongue to say: 
"Tell who he is, and write the whole story for 
your paper." But something made her forbear. 
"Wait!" she said, "and I'll come down during 
the noon recess. Maybe I can get him to 
confess." 

"That is too late for our paper," he reminded 
her. 

"I'm sorry, Hart," she answered curtly, 
"but it is Mikey that I'm thinking of — not the 
paper — and not you !" 

"And you won't make it a bit easy for me ?" 

Bitter indeed was the reply that rushed to 
Beth's lips. But she checked it, unsaid, and 
hung up the receiver. 



XX 



At noon, Beth got on the Halsted Street car 
and went down town. Mikey had been in the 
Harrison Street Station all night, but was sent 
over to the County Jail in the morning, after a 
preliminary " sweating" in which he had refused 
to give any account of himself, satisfactory or 
otherwise. 

It was visiting day at the jail, and in the room 
where the waiting sit the gray gathering was a 
numerous one. High and white and bare, that 
room ; and round its sides a nearly continuous 
wood bench broken only by the door from the 
street and the opposite door into the jail. Fast- 
locked, every moment except when some one 
was passing through, that jail door ! And from 
behind thick bars of steel in a cage in the upper 
half of it, a jailer looks on all who come, and 
listens to their pleas. The place never failed to 
impress Beth deeply ; but to-day it appealed to 
her with a new pitifulness. The waiting faces 
were so gray — with poverty's pallor and with 
apprehensiveness. The sad-colored livery of 
poverty was so depressing. Elderly women — 
making, perhaps, their first call upon a child in 

358 



JUST FOLKS 359 

prison — wept silently but uncontrollably ; little 
girls of eight and ten years, clothed in dun and 
drab tones, carried baskets of food, copies of 
cheap magazines, and other little comforts, every 
one of which would have to be ruthlessly ex- 
amined before it reached the prisoner for whom 
it was intended. There were young women 
there, too — maids and young wives and 
mothers ; and here and there among them one 
who carried the flaunting badge of vice. And 
there were men — oldish men, for the most 
part — and boys. But, as everywhere where the 
sad and waiting sit, women were in the majority. 

Beth asked to see the Jailer, and was ad- 
mitted to his office. 

"Well, well I" he greeted her jovially, "here 
we are again !" 

He was a big man, and he carried the look of 
indisputable authority in every pound of his 
weight, in every move he made ; carried it, too, 
in every inflection of his voice. He was a man 
of iron, and proud of it. And he never failed 
to relish the contrast when wee Beth — fair- 
haired and childish-looking — presented herself 
alongside him as "another arm of the law." 

"I tell you," he used to tease her, on the 
occasions of her rather infrequent visits to the 
jail, "when the two of us get in combination, 
sinners had better look out ! " 

Beth liked the Jailer; she respected him. 



3 6o JUST FOLKS 

And the Jailer liked Beth ; under all his raillery 
was real respect for her. He pretended to think 
she was a weak little sentimentalist; but he 
knew she could do more with boys than any one 
else who ever came into the jail. She pretended 
to think his one delight in life was getting people 
to lock up ; but she knew there was never any 
one more glad than he when, with reasonable 
regard for public safety, he could order the 
great steel door swung open to let an imprisoned 
wretch go free. 

"Well," he chuckled, "what white woolly 
lamb of your acquaintance have we got here 
to-day — mistaking him for a black sheep ?" 

Beth tried to answer back in kind, but she 
was so troubled that the effort was a poor one. 

"Why, Officer !" (he always called her "Offi- 
cer" — it sounded so absurd), "you look un- 
usually grave — " 

"Do I ? Well, I have to ask you a big favor 
— and I'm scared." 

"What do you want me to do ? Turn my 
back and not look while your lamb escapes ? 
The guards 'd get him !" 

"No — please!" Beth's tone was pleading, 
and he saw that she was very serious. "You 
have here a suspect in last night's Greek murder 
in my ward." 

"I don't know — have we ?" 

"Yes; he was brought here this morning. 



JUST FOLKS 361 

He's quite young, I'm told — I think he may 
be one of my boys. I want to talk with him 
and I don't want to have to do it through those 
awful double gratings. What I want to say to 
him — to ask him — could never be said like 
that. I want to sit down by him, and talk to 
him very privately — if he's the boy I think he 
is. I don't care if you lock us both in a cell, 
and post a guard at the door to watch — but 
let me get near that boy !" 

No one knew better than Beth did how much 
this was to ask. No one knew better than she 
did, how easily the jail might be demoralized if 
such breach of necessary discipline were often 
made. Even with all the watchfulness that was 
exercised, she knew how "flakes of coke" (co- 
caine) were smuggled in in magazines, between 
two pages lightly gummed together; how files 
and saws could be concealed in bread and in 
bananas, and escape the detection of any but 
the most argus-eyed ; how even the double 
grating of steel, small-meshed and with eighteen 
inches of space between the screen behind which 
the prisoner stood and the screen in front of 
which his visitor was stationed, was not sufficient 
to keep the ingenious from supplying liquor to 
a prisoner — by means of a tiny tubing of 
rubber, one end of which was in a bottle of 
whiskey in the caller's pocket, and the other end, 
temporarily stiffened for eighteen inches or so 



362 JUST FOLKS 

by a little willow switch, poked through the 
steel meshes to reach thirsty lips. If, despite 
steel screens and watchful guards, things like 
this could be accomplished, it was not to be 
expected that freer intercourse with a prisoner 
could be lightly granted. In jail, as elsewhere, 
those whose merits were above the average and 
whose intentions were unquestionably good, had 
to suffer the rigors of the law made for those 
who were below the average in merit and had 
intentions unquestionably bad. 

But Beth got her desired opportunity. It 
was dinner hour. The various squads of prison- 
ers — divided off, as well as was possible, in 
grades of depravity and long-continued vicious- 
ness — were returned from the exercise pens to 
their cells to be fed. The Jailer found out where 
the Greek murder suspect was, and ordered that 
if he had a cell-mate, he was to be transferred 
temporarily to an unoccupied cell. When this 
was done, he led the way and Beth followed him. 

Mikey was sitting on the edge of his cot, 
staring vacantly, unseeingly, at the wall, three 
feet away. He turned an apathetic look on 
Beth when she stopped, close to the cell door, 
and spoke to him. 

"Mikey!" she pleaded, "I want to come in 
and talk with you — I want to help you. I am 
so sorry — so terribly sorry, I didn't understand, 
last night — that I let you go away, angry, 



JUST FOLKS 363 

when you needed me so. I hope you'll forgive 
me, Mikey, and let me talk to you now. Will 
you, Mikey?" 

For a moment, Mikey did not answer — did not 
appear as if he even heard. Then, "Theer's 
nuttin' t' talk about," he said sullenly. 

"There's everything to talk about ! If you 
could have seen your mother, Mikey — last 
night, and this morning ! If you could know 
as I know, what she's suffering, you'd see that 
there is everything to talk about. Won't you 
hear what I've got to say to you, even if you 
have nothing to say to me ?" 

Again, Mikey made no answer. But Beth saw 
in his face the signs of softening. She nodded, 
over her shoulder, to the Jailer, and he stepped 
forward and unlocked the door, then locked it 
after her when she had slipped inside. 

Sitting on the cot beside Mikey, she began to 
plead with him. 

" I tell ye, I didn' kill no Greek," he kept saying 
doggedly. 

Beth pleaded all the advantages of confession. 
She tried to go over, in detail, the conversations 
with his mother, last night and this morning. 

"I tell ye, I didn' kill no Greek," he reiterated. 

Beth even told what the desk sergeant at 
Maxwell Street had said about the Greek. 
"And every one will feel the same way, Mikey," 
she said. " Especially when it's known how much 



364 JUST FOLKS 

you've had to stand, what a hard fight yours has 
been, people will judge you gently, Mikey dear. 
Just stand up and say you did it, and tell why. 
If you don't, they'll try you — there'll be big 
expense to the state — and in the end you won't 
get as much sympathy, because of all the trouble 
you have made." 

"I tell ye, I didn' kill no Greek." 

"And listen, Mikey ! I've been to see the 
man you used to drive for — " Here Mikey 
showed his first gleam of real awakening. "And 
he says — I pleaded with him to take you back, 
but he feels pretty sore about the strike, and he 
refused — he says that if I can get you any other 
job, to drive, and the new employers want to 
buy a horse, he'll let them — have Ginger for 
you." 

To Beth's intense surprise, Mikey began 
to sob. 

"What is it, Mikey ?" she entreated. "What 
is it?" 

He flung himself face downward on the cot, 
and shook with sobbing. 

Beth slipped to the floor and knelt beside him, 
her face close to his. "Mikey!" she whispered, 
entreatingly, "can't you tell me? Can't you 
see how much I want to help you ?" 

Slowly, as if every word were wrung from him 
in agony, and muffled by the deep burial of his 
face within the hollow of his outstretched arms 



JUST FOLKS 365 

Mikey answered, "I — hurt — the fella — that 
was — drivin' — Ginger !" 

"You hurt — " Beth began, repeating after 
him uncomprehendingly. Then light broke upon 
her. "When? Last night?" 

"Yes." 

"Just before you came to me ?" 

" Yes." 

"And you weren't near the Greek's, at all ?" 

"No'm." 

"Oh, Mikey! Why didn't you tell this 
before?" 

"I — couldn'. An' annyway, they wouldn' 
listen t' me. They kep' askin' me t'ings I didn' 
know nuttin' about." 

"Where were you when you hurt the boy?" 

"Down town — " Mikey sat up, now, and 
started to talk more freely — much more freely, 
indeed, than Beth had ever heard him talk. 
It was as if, now that he had begun, his relief 
was so great that he could hardly say enough — 
only, the habit of years made speech difficult. 
He was like a mariner, rescued after long isola- 
tion from all human-kind ; full of desire to talk 
and be understood, but almost without speech 
to express himself. 

"I was huntin' work all day," he went on, 
"after Ang'la come home. I had t' have work, 
an' I couldn' git none. When it was supper-time, 
I wouldn' go home 'n' eat no more o' what Ma 



366 JUST FOLKS 

earned scrubbin'. 'Whin I git work, I'll go 
home to 'em,' I says t' mesilf, 'an' not before.'" 

Mikey's evident pride in this decision was so 
great that Beth's heart ached as she thought 
how little he understood his mother, how little 
his mother understood him, and at what pitiful 
cross purposes poor human natures play even 
when each is trying to do what seems best and 
most unselfish to him. 

"About nine o'clock, I guess," Mikey went on, 
"I was lookin' fer a place t' sleep, down by the 
freight sheds, whin I — whin I seen — Ginger. 
He — he seen me before I even seen him. An' 
I was talkin' to him whin — the fella that drives 
him, now, come out an' tol' me t' l'ave the 
horse be. I — I dunno jest what happened, 
but I know I hit 'im — in the nose — an' it bled 
— an' he hollered — an' I run — t' you. I was 
goin' t' till you — 'count o' havin' promised ye 
I wouldn' strike no blow, whativer I done." 

"And I was stupid, Mikey, and began to ask 
you questions instead of waiting to hear what 
you came to say. If you could know how bad I 
feel about the way I acted ! I might have saved 
so much suffering !" 

But Mikey seemed to have no resentfulness ; 
neither regret for what his mother had undergone, 
nor distress over what had happened to him. 

"They got me whin I was comin' back down 
town," he said, "an' began t'rowin' it into me 



JUST FOLKS 367 

about some dago. I told 'em I didn' know, an' 
I t'ought they'd soon fin' out I didn'. An' 
whin they ast me about me han's an' coat — like 
you done ! — I toP nuttin'. That man Gooch 
that lives by your house, he's the right sort ! 
He says t' me, after that t'ing happened between 
him an' Slosson, he says — whin I told him I'd 
be glad if it was me got the chanst t' kick Slosson 
clean t' Hell, he says, 'No !' he says, 'I'd be glad 
if God A'mighty'd take him an' all his kin' 
an' put thim wheer they belong,' he says, 'but I 
don' want t' be the man that makes labor's 
battle harder by drawin' blood,' he says. 'The 
rights o' the workin' min,' he says, 'is the on'y 
rights in this world that has been won widout 
blood an' battle. Fightin' only sets us back,' 
he says. He talked t' me pretty fine — that 
man did ! That little kid o' his ought t' be a 
good man, you bet ! An' I wasn' goin' t' l'ave 
him — ner you — t'ink low o' me by knowin' 
what I done. But I dunno — seemed like I run 
t' you widout meanin' to. An' so — d'ye t'ink 
he'll have t' know, too ?" 

"Not if we can help it, he won't ! But if he 
does know, I'm sure he'll understand — as I 
do, Mikey. Now I must go. I hope we can 
get you out of here so you can go home to-night. 
And if we do, I want you to promise me one 
thing; swear it on whatever is most sacred to 
you — that you won't try to help your mother, 



368 JUST FOLKS 

another time, by staying away from home and 
not telling her where you are ! " 
Mikey promised. 

"Now," finished Beth, when she had told all 
this, rapidly, to the Jailer, "if only that murder 
mystery unravels itself a bit, so Mikey can go 
home." 

But Mikey was not as madly impatient 
about being free as many persons in like circum- 
stances might have been. And meantime, it 
was a tremendous relief to Beth to have this 
story of his, which she fully believed, however 
far from believing it the police authorities might 
reasonably be. 

Beth had not time to go over to Mary's on her 
return from the Jail. She had no time for 
luncheon, either, except for a banana and a bun, 
eaten in an ante-room while she waited for her 
cases to be called. But before she thought 
of eating, she scrawled a note to lift the suspense 
in Henry Street — trusting that Angela Ann or 
some of the children might be there to read it. 
"I have seen Mikey and he did not do it," the 
note said. "Everything will soon be all right. 
Don't worry. I'll be over after court." A boy in 
Ewing Street, when Beth offered him a dime 
to take this note to Henry Street, looked at her 
as if he thought she were either drunk or 
crazy, then pocketed the dime and sped away 



JUST FOLKS 369 

before she could have time to repent her reck- 
lessness. 

Hart Ferris came into court before the session 
was over. His face was beaming. 

"Beth," he said — and there was contrition 
in his look and in his tone — "you don't know 
how glad I am — " 

Beth looked mystified. She thought he had 
heard about her interview with Mikey, and she 
wondered how. "Have you seen Mikey?" 
she asked. 

"Not since this morning. Have you ?" 

"Why, yes ; I saw him at noon." 

"At noon ? He didn't know then ?" 

"Know what ?" 

"Why, Beth! I thought you knew — " 

"Thought I knew—?" 

"Yes ; the man who killed the Greek is found." 

"He is?" 

"And has confessed." 

"He has?" 

"It was as the desk sergeant surmised, last 
night—" 

"Some father—?" 

"Yes — learned it was through the Greek 
his girl had gone into — into what Angela went 
into — and so he, not knowing how to prosecute, 
became his own avenger." 

"And has told his story ?" 

"Yes." 

2B 



370 JUST FOLKS 

" It will go easy with him ? " Beth's sympa- 
thies had travelled, in a flash, to another home 
whereon the gloom would settle as it lifted from 
the Caseys'. 

"Oh, surely." 

" But even at the easiest — ! " Beth shook her 
head. Instead of Mary, in that outer room 
where the gray waiting sit, there would be another 
woman, white-faced and heavy-hearted. If only 
there could ever be in this close-knit world a 
pure joy, unmixed with any thought of some one 
else's woe ! 

As soon as she could get away, they went 
over to Henry Street. Mary was getting ready to 
go down town to scrub — fixing a bit of supper for 
the children to eat at six or seven or whenever 
they felt most like it. Angela Ann stood idly 
by, watching her mother half-interestedly. It 
was going to be dull at home, for Angela Ann — 
safe and kind, but very, very dull. Beth thought 
of that, the moment she saw Angela standing 
there ; back in her home, but not of it. No ! 
in no sense of it as the others were, even 
Mikey. Beth wondered how long the girl would 
stay. 

"Don't go down town to-night, Mary," she 
pleaded. "We must find some other way than 
for you to scrub at night. I'm going over to the 
corner to telephone and ask if Mikey will be 
home to supper. If he comes, we must have a 



JUST FOLKS 371 

celebration. We ought to have had one last 
night, for Angela ; but we were all so troubled 
yesterday. To-night, if Mikey comes, we'll 
have a grand jubilee for both returns. Angela, 
will you come with me and help me ?" 

On the way to the Avenue and back, Beth 
noticed that the acquaintances of Angela they 
met had a sceptical bearing. They were told 
that Angela had been working as nurse-maid for 
a lady who had taken her to the country. (This 
was the story Mary had consistently told since 
Angela's disappearance.) But not many, it was 
evident, gave credence to the story. 

"Lose yer job, Ang'la ?" shouted one youth 
at her from a distance of a hundred feet or 
more. Angela's effort at bravado was pitiful 
to see; and the youth's wink and leer were 
revolting. 

"Angela's got to be taken out of this neighbor- 
hood, quick !" was Beth's mental calculation as 
they hurried on their errand. 

She got the Jailer on the 'phone. Mikey had 
started for home some little time ago. So she 
and Angela bought the feast, Angela's listlessness 
dropping from her like a blanket. 

Beth made the most possible of the occasion in 
the way of excitement, knowing that excitement 
was what Angela's poor little soul craved. 
The crowning extravagance was a big water- 
melon, "ice cold," which the grocer's boy carried 



372 JUST FOLKS 

home for them, creating a small sensation in 
Henry Street where whole watermelons were of 
infrequent occurrence. 

When they got back to the house, Mikey was 
there. Mary wanted Beth and Mr. Ferris to 
stay to supper, but Beth said no. "It is a long, 
long time since you all sat down to a meal to- 
gether, and I think you'll be happier just by 
yourselves," she said. "But I'll be over early 
in the morning, Mary, for I've a world of things 
to talk to you about. I wish you'd talk over some 
of them among yourselves, this evening. One 
thing I'm almost sure I can manage within a 
very few days is to get Mikey a job — driving. 
And I have hopes — you know, Mikey, what I 
told you this morning ! Then we've got to think 
how we can get Angela just the nicest job that 
ever was, in some pleasant place where she 
can work with lots of young folks and have real 
good times. And Mary, I believe this is the 
time for you to move. While Angela was away, 
you wouldn't think of it, for fear she'd come 
back and fail to find you. But now that you're 
all together, I think you ought to get out of this 
cellar and get a better place to live and for 
Angela to ask her friends to. I know where we 
can borrow money to pay for the moving and the 
advance rent. Mikey can sign papers to pay it 
back out of his wages, and the man that lends 
it won't charge any interest. Now, you talk all 



JUST FOLKS 373 

these things over — and I'll see you in the 
morning." 

Mary went with them as far as the bottom of 
the stairs leading to the sidewalk. "Ain't 
it wonderful," she said, wiping the tears of happi- 
ness and gratefulness from her eyes, "how t'ings 
has worked out fer me an' mine ? An' d'ye min' 
what I said las' night 'bout prayin' fer a sign I 
didn't nade t' make Ang'la ashamed ? Ain't 
it wonderful how the sacrifice was took off of 
me an' laid on another ? You'll be goin' t' see 
that man that done it — won'tye ? An' if theer's 
annythin' in all the world I kin do t' help 'im 
er his fam'ly, ye'll be sure to lit me do it — won't 
ye, darlin' ?" 

Beth promised, and Mary went back to spread 
the feast of rejoicing. 

Beth and Ferris dined in Hull House restaurant. 
Up to the moment when, their order given, they 
sat facing one another across the black oak 
table, neither of them had said a word about last 
night's difference. 

Better than anything Ferris could possibly 
have pleaded in his extenuation, was the un- 
mistakable look he wore of one who has been 
sore beset. Beth had noted it in a moment; 
it spoke volumes to her, and stirred her swift 
forgivingness. 

When their waitress had gone, Ferris looked 



374 JUST FOLKS 

across at Beth and tried to smile ; it was a wan 
effort. 

"This has been an awful day," he said. 

Beth nodded briskly; she was always brisk 
when she was fearful of her self-control. 

"I was like Mary," he went on; "I kept 
praying for a sign I needn't do it ; but the sign 
didn't come — and I remembered what she 
said. I could see me losing you forever, if I tpld 
on Mikey — I had visions of Mikey hanged, and 
Mary's heart broken, and you hating me. I 
didn't know I was made of such stern stuff — 
but the — the other thing wouldn't go ! I'm 
not looking for sympathy — but I want you to 
know it wasn't any easy thing for me to stand 
against you — " 

"I never supposed it was easy," said Beth, 
gently, "but I couldn't understand why you felt 
you must do it. I thought you ought to care 
more about Mary and Mikey — and I thought 
you ought to care more about me." 

Ferris smiled tenderly. "I thought I ought 
to, too," he said, "that was the strange part of 
it ! But I suppose ' I could not love thee, dear, so 
much, loved I not honor more.' " 

"I know," said Beth. "You had to be true to 
yourself — we all have to. I was hurt — but in 
my 'deepest deepmost heart' I don't suppose 
I ever thought of loving you less because you 
couldn't see things just exactly as I do. I 



JUST FOLKS 375 

believe we see things alike almost as much as is 
safe in a partnership — don't you ? If there's 
never a bit of difference, two are no better than 
one — are they ? And I — I think two are /" 

After dinner was over, they walked, in the 
summer dusk, up one teeming street and down 
another — trying to decide where they would 
most like to find a four-room flat. 

For "reporters can't marry and live in an 
apartment," as Ferris said, "but any working 
man who likes the Nineteenth Ward can marry 
and live in a flat." 

"And we wouldn't take an apartment anywhere 
else, if it was endowed — would we ? " asked Beth. 

"What's the use of living away from where 
all your friends live?" he answered happily. 

Toward nine o'clock they went back to Max- 
well Street. Hannah Wexsmith was sitting on 
the door-step in the shadow of Monahan's side- 
walk display. 

"Slosson," she told them quite triumphantly, 
"is comin' home to-morrow." Home! To the 
room where he had never cast anchor to the ex- 
tent of so much as a "Sunday collar-button" ! 
And he would never pay the back rent, nor 
ever be cured of "the failin'." But he had been 
Hannah's burden and anxiety for eight long years, 
and she had been lonesome without him, though 
when he was there they seldom spoke. 



376 JUST FOLKS 

Joe Gooch was sitting in his "front" room, 
minding his baby and reading Hannah's evening 
paper. Mamie and Clarence were out. Beth 
stopped at the open door to tell Joe what Mikey 
had said about him that morning, and the way 
Joe's face lighted with tender pride, was beautiful 
to see. 

"Thank ye fer tellin' me," he said. "I guess 
mebbe you don't know jest how much I needed 
that." ' 

The Slinskys' door was open, too — they were 
more neighborly and less sensitive, of late — 
and Dinah heard Beth's voice in the hall below 
when she was talking to Joe Gooch. She was 
waiting, when Beth reached the top of the stairs, 
to speak to her. 

"I had a lovely letter to-day from Mrs. Brent," 
said Dinah, "and she sent her best, best love to 
you. She seems to be very happy, and she 
says she hopes to be here some time this fall." 

Liza and Adam Spear were on their respective 
sides of the kitchen table ; Liza sewing, and Adam 
reading the paper. Beth and Ferris told them 
all the news. 

Liza was particularly interested in the way 
Mary Casey had been spared the bitterness of 
publishing Angela's shame. 

"Seems like God'd made up his mind that 
woman had been tried about enough — don't 
it ?" she remarked. "I s'pose some folks'd call 



JUST FOLKS 377 

it chance — all chance ! But when you live 
real close t' people an' know lots about their 
lives, the ways o' Providence, it seems t' me, is 
pretty plain." 

"And the unbelieving people are the ones 
who don't 'live close,'" said little Beth. 



NOVELS, ETC., BY "BARBARA" 

(MABEL OSGOOD WRIGHT) 



Each, in decorated cloth binding, $1.50 



The Garden of a Commuter's Wife Illustrated 

" Reading it is like having the entry into a home of the class that is the proud- 
est product of our land, a home where love of books and love of nature go 
hand in hand with hearty, simple love of ' folks.' ... It is a charming book." 
— The Interior. 

People of the Whirlpool Illustrated 

" The whole book is delicious, with its wise and kindly humor, its just perspec- 
tive of the true values of things, its clever pen pictures of people and customs, 
and its healthy optimism for the great world in general." — Philadelphia Even- 
ing Telegraph. 

The Woman Errant 

" The book is worth reading. It will cause discussion. It is an interesting 
fictional presentation of an important modern question, treated with fascinating 
feminine adroitness." — Miss Jeannette Gilder in the Chicago Tribune. 

At the Sign of the Fox 

" Her little pictures of country life are fragrant with a genuine love of nature 
and there is fun as genuine in her notes on rural character." — New York 
Tribune. 

The Garden, You and I 

" This volume is simply the best she has yet put forth, and quite too deliciously 
torturing to the reviewer, whose only garden is in Spain. . . . The delightful 
humor which pervaded the earlier books, and without which Barbara would 
not be Barbara, has lost nothing of its poignancy." — Congregationalist. 

The Open Window. Tales of the Months. 

"A little vacation from the sophistication of the commonplace.**— Argonaut. 

Poppea of the Post-Office cioth, /*** $i. 5 o 

" A rainbow romance, . . . tender yet bracing, cheerily stimulating ... its 
genial entirety refreshes like a cooling shower." — Chicago Record-Herald. 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS, 64-66 TIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK 



Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL'S NOVELS 



Each j cloth, gilt tops and titles, $1.50 



A Modern Chronicle Illustrated 

This, Mr. Churchill's first great presentation of the Eternal Feminine, is 
throughout a profound study of a fascinating young American woman. 
It is frankly a modern love story. 

" The most thorough and artistic work the author has yet turned out. A 
very interesting story and a faithful picture of character . . . one that 
will give rise to much discussion." — New York Sun. 

Mr* Crewe's Career Illustrated 

" It is an honest and fair story. ... It is very interesting ; and the 
heroine is a type of woman as fresh, original, and captivating as any that 
has appeared in American novels for a long time past." — The Outlook. 

The Celebrity An Episode 

" No such piece of inimitable comedy in a literary way has appeared for 
years. ... It is the purest, keenest fun." — Chicago Inter- Ocean. 

Richard Carvel Illustrated 

" In breadth, massing of dramatic effect, depth of feeling, and rare whole- 
someness of spirit, it has seldom, if ever, been surpassed by an American 
romance." — Chicago Tribune. 

The Crossing Illustrated 

"A thoroughly interesting book, packed with exciting adventure and 
sentimental incident, yet faithful to historical fact both in detail and in 
spirit." — The Dial. 

The Crisis Illustrated 

"A charming love story that never loses its interest. . . . The intense 
political bitterness, the intense patriotism of both parties, are shown 
understandingly." — Evening Telegraphy Philadelphia. 

Coniston Illustrated 

" A lighter, gayer spirit and a deeper, tenderer touch than Mr. Churchill 
has ever achieved before. . . . One of the truest and finest transcripts 
of modern American life thus far achieved in our fiction." — Chicago 
Record- Her aid. 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York 



Mr. ROBERT HERRICK'S NOVELS 



Cloth, extra, gilt tops, each, $1.50 



A Life for a Life 

"A serious attempt to treat a big, living question in a new way.' 
Record-Herald. 



Together 



" An able book, remarkably so, and one which should find a place in the 
library of any woman who is not a fool." — Editorial in The New York 
American. 

The Gospel of Freedom 

" A novel that may be truly called the greatest study of social life, in a 
broad and very much up-to-date sense, that has ever been contributed to 
American fiction." — Chicago Inter- Ocean. 

The Web of Life 

" It is strong in that it faithfully depicts many phases of American life, 
and uses them to strengthen a web of fiction, which is most artistically 
wrought out." — Buffalo Express. 

Jock o t Dreams; or, The Real World 

"The title of the book has a subtle intention. It indicates, and is true 
to the verities in doing so, the strange dreamlike quality of life to the 
man who has not yet fought his own battles, or come into conscious pos- 
session of his will — only such battles bite into the consciousness." — 
Chicago Tribune. 

The Common Lot 

"It grips the reader tremendously. ... It is the drama of a human 
soul the reader watches . . . the finest study of human motive that has 
appeared for many a day." — The World To-day. 

The Memoirs of an American Citizen 

Illustrated with about fifty drawings by F. B. Masters 

" Intensely absorbing as a story, it is also a crisp, vigorous document of 
startling significance. More than any other writer to-day he is giving us 
the American novel." — New York Globe. 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York 



AMONG MACMILLAN NOVELS 



By RICHARD WASHBURN CHILD 

Jim Hands Decorated cloth, i2mo, $1.50. (October, igio) 

By S.^R. CROCKETT 

Author of " The Stickit Minister," etc. 
Love's Young Dream Decorated cloth, i2tno, $1.50 

(September, igio) 

By JOSEPHINE DASKAM BACON 
While Caroline Was Growing 

Decorated cloth, i2mo, $1.50. (October, igio) 

By CLARA LAUGHLIN 

Just Folks Decorated cloth, i2mo, $1.50. (October, igio) 

By JACK LONDON 

Author of " Martin Eden," " The Call of the Wild," etc. 

Burning Daylight 

Illustrated. Decorated cloth, i2tno, $1.50 (October, igio) 

By JACK LONDON 
When God Laughs 
Illustrated. Decorated cloth, i2tno, $1.50. (November, igio) 

By E. V. LUCAS 

Mr. Ingleside Decorated cloth, i2mo, $1.35 net 

(September, igio) 

By STEPHEN REYNOLDS 

Alongshore Where Man and the Sea Face to Face 
With Eight Illustrations from Photographs by Melville Mackay 

Decorated cloth, i2mo, $1.50 

By MABEL OSGOOD WRIGHT 

Author of "Poppea of the Post-Office," 
"The Garden of a Commuter's Wife," etc. 

Princess Flower Hat Decorated cloth, i2mo, $1.50 

(November, igio) 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS, 64-66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YOBK 



THIS BOOK IS DUE ON THE LAST DATE 
STAMPED BELOW 



AN INITIAL FINE OF 25 CENTS 

WILL BE ASSESSED FOR FAILURE TO RETURN 
THIS BOOK ON THE DATE DUE. THE PENALTY 
WILL INCREASE TO 50 CENTS ON THE FOURTH 
DAY AND TO $1.00 ON THE SEVENTH DAY 
OVERDUE. 



JUL 12 1937 



3Au?mvr 



~ - ,- *•- — * ""* 



JUL 22 1868 



SENT ON ILL 



JUN 8 1994 



SENT ON ILL 



OCT 2 5 1994 



U. C. BERKELEY 



LD 21-100ro-8,'34 



IB 33179 



912908 



THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA UBRARY